POCATELLO — Pocatello already has multiple trail systems, including City Creek on the westside and Blackrock/Chinese Peak to the south.
But if a proposal by a local group of trail users goes through, Pocatello might soon have another system east of the Highland neighborhood.
Bruce Olenick, regional administrator of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and a local trail advocate, asked the Pocatello City Council on April 13 to consider providing a portion of city land to access the proposed system, tentatively called the Pioneer Ridge Trail System.
There are multiple goals in Olenick’s proposal, including the creation of 20 miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding and limited ATV use trails at the Bureau of Land Management’s 1,400-acre East Bench Recreation Management Zone.
Other goals include providing more recreational opportunities on the east side of Pocatello and a home racing course for the local Pocatello Pioneers high school mountain biking team. The proposal also seeks to connect its trails with the Portneuf Wellness Complex and the Portneuf Greenway trails.
To determine the proposal’s feasibility and impact on local wildlife and natural resources, BLM will be drafting an environmental assessment. Then there will be a public comment period.
According to Blaine Newman, assistant field manager with the BLM, the project is in its very early stages and nothing has been approved or finalized yet.
However, if the project does goes through, it would involve constructing new trails while working to improve several of the existing trails on BLM property. Some of these trails are incredibly steep and would need to be made more accessible to trail users.
Blaine also said that it could be at least a year before any land development begins.