I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am Chad Benson, the new Acting District Ranger at the Powell Ranger District, Clearwater National Forest.
Although I’ve only been here a few short weeks, I have quickly become aware of all the incredible partnerships in place supporting operations at the Lolo Pass Rest Area and Visitor Center. The construction commitment, as well as the ongoing operations and maintenance commitments made by the Idaho Transportation Department and Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT), is a partnership that the Clearwater National Forest is very proud to be a part of.
Over the last three years, by exchanging letters and meeting annually to discuss operations, our employees have worked together on-the-ground to build mutually beneficial working relationships, benefiting both the rest area and visitor center.
Just last week, with the installation of all the new rest area signing installed by ITD, I became aware of a commendable effort made by one of your staff to facilitate better site management for winter operations at Lolo Pass. Last spring, the Forest Service began working with Dave Couch and his staff to facilitate a sign plan that would aid all partners in managing winter plowing and site access to Lolo Pass.
Dave followed this effort through, meeting numerous times with Forest Service employees and Idaho State Police officers until a sign plan was agreed to and approved this past summer.
This plan facilitates plowing of the rest area as well as plowing of the recreational parking area and helps alleviate some concerns associated with winter plowing and parking congestion at the site. Dave also included in this plan ways to consolidate highway signing and implement the 1610 AM radio signing.
Not only did he lead the effort to complete the sign design, but has provided us with professional CAD drawings of the sign plan, and most importantly implemented all the signing changes along U.S. Highway 12 in time for our Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemorations this past September, and for our upcoming winter operations at the Lolo Pass site.
This was no small feat. The production and installation of the professional appearing MUTD signing was not something the Forest Service could have accomplished alone prior to this winter season. Through Dave’s efforts, ITD purchased and installed all the signing to aid with rest area plowing and management. This signing will also help tremendously with Forest Service management of the visitor center parking area.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to Dave and his staff as well as to the Idaho Transportation Department. These types of employee efforts are truly what enable partnerships to grow and flourish.
Please extend my sincere appreciation to Dave Couch and his staff for this outstanding effort.