WALLACE — “Government wheels turn, they just turn slowly. The wheels are still turning, just not as fast as we would like.”
Jason Smith of the U.S. Forest Service Recreation staff spoke to members of the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park Manager, William Niska, as well as members of the Pottsville Seven concerning their beloved park near Mullan.
The Pottsville Seven is a group of men from the Silver Valley who first developed the proposal to restore Pottsville Park to its original beauty, and has been working on fixing the current East Shoshone Park.
Discussions were held on changing the name, the trail through and beyond the park, topics for signs, and eventual maintenance of the west kitchen and bathrooms installation.
“Right now, there are no roadblocks with changing the name, we have to see what the process is. As soon as we find that out, we can start to change the name to what we see fit. This can be a longer process than we want because someone is going to have to go through the process of changing file names, all new files, and all new information. I’m hoping that we will have an answer, and start that process before our next meeting,” remarked Smith.
Once the process gets started, the group will meet and finalize a name. Names thrown around are Pottsville Recreational Area and Pottsville Flatts Recreational Area, as the forest service rarely has highly developed parks. When you start inferring to an area as a park, there is a higher level of upkeep than what the forest service regularly adheres to.
“I don’t really get hung up over a name. A rose by any other name would cost just as much,” Smith laughed to the group.
The group then moved on to trails through and beyond the park and what standards must be met when working with the Forest Service.
Smith explained, “If there is a natural foot path, because people are just walking across the landscape, we aren’t managing that. It doesn’t need to be managed, and it’s not that big of a deal. If we were to go and put signs along the trail, we are now in the process of developing it.”
The group eventually plans on working on interpretive signs that will go along an official trail throughout the park, but just like changing the name, there is a process that must be cleared by the appropriate.
“Going through the process of making an official trial is not that bad. You just have to get clearance. It has to be planned out. But we can’t jump the gun and try to make a de facto trail without making it a designated trail,” Smith said.
Ideas for interpretive signs include John Mullan and the Mullan Road, Railroad development, The S-Bridge, the town of Pottsville, the Yellowstone Trail, the development of the Hale Fish Hatchery, and more.
The group discussed the cost of making signs and agreed that creating signage with the highest quality in mind is essential. Creating high-quality signage now aims to eliminate the need for extra maintenance down the road.
“Since we are starting from the beginning, it’s going to cost a lot of money right now. But the nice part is, it will last longer, and be better quality down the road,” Smith said.
“It’s important to first go with the highest quality that we can get. That’s what we did with the signs on the Pulaski Trail, and they are still in excellent condition,” said Jim See, Pottsville Seven-member.
As with much of the process, getting the funds and resources to fix the West kitchen are currently being worked on.
Smith explained, “We need to actually sit down and design it. It’s going to be a new design structure, because the last design failed. We are going to have to make some tweaks. I don’t know if we can get this finished before the next grant cycle in August. It will most likely fit in as part of the cost for next year.”
The current plan is to disassemble the West kitchen and save what can be salvaged to maintain the historical context. Talks and plans have also begun to input usable ADA-compliant toilets in the area.
The Pottsville Seven, BOCC and members of the U.S. Forest Service plan to have a site visit next month, with weather permitting. The group will have an in-person, visual look at the area and continue plans for the repair and restoration.