The Sinker Creek drainage in the Owyhees has about 44 ATV/Motorcycle/UTV stream crossings. Last year there were rumblings from Fish and Game about restricting access to the Sinker Creek area in the Owyhees due to the Red Banded Trout in the creek and what effect crossing the creek was having on the Red Banded Trout population. So the question of what to do came up?
Pam Harrington from Trout Unlimited (TU); Todd Warnex from Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation (IDPR); Beth Gilman from Kuna Trail Riders; Paul Nettleton, a local rancher, and Steve Huffman met to discuss solutions. The best option was to remove eleven of the some forty crossings of the creek by laying in approximately one quarter mile of new trail.
Members of the various Treasure Valley ATV/UTV clubs were notified and asked for volunteers.
Todd and Bill from IDPR hauled in equipment on Thursday, April 23 and flagged the new trail. Members from the Emmett Rough Riders, Kuna Trail Riders, Canyon ATV Trail Riders and Boise ATV Trail Rider clubs brought in their recreational vehicles and set up camp near the “end of the pavement” (EOP) parking lot off Silver City Road.
Friday, AJ from the Idaho State Lands Department and a couple of fire crews began to clear brush for the new route.
Club volunteers assisted the fire crews in removing the brush and setting aside the large Junipers that were removed from the new trail.
Meanwhile Todd and Bill were “piloting” the new trail with the trail dozer as shown above.
Saturday, club volunteers removed the limbs from the Junipers and “skinned” them for use in the turnpike (rock bed across the creek).
Geotex fabric was laid on the creek bed to eliminate stirring up the mud when the creek is crossed.
The Juniper logs were placed on each side of fabric and staked in place. This crossing is 60 plus inches!
Todd and Bill used the trail dozer bucket to load rocks of various sizes into ATV trailers pulled by Carl from Canyon, and Ray from Emmett.
The rocks were used in the one large rock bed (shown on left) and three smaller ones along the new trail. A new fence gate (not shown in photo) was installed at the large rock bed to keep Paul’s cattle from crossing the creek.
Other club volunteers blocked off the old creek crossings with the cut brush and logs.
Sunday, volunteers, Todd and Bill toured the new trail and identified unfinished work/maintenance to be completed in the future.
This Sinker Creek reroute project was a win-win for all parties involved. Thanks to all the volunteers for their assistance.
Story about the Joyce Ranch, Owyhees, The Idaho Statesman, “Celebrating Owyhee’s Joyce Ranch” by Martin Peterson, 6/11/2015.