Environmental Stewardship Award
City of Rocks Backcountry Byway
Submittal: Idaho Transportation Department, District 4
Contributing partner: Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation; Cassia County Commissioners
Key personnel: Devin Rigby (ITD, D-4), Connie Jones (ITD, D-4), Brent Inghram (Federal Highway Administration), Wallace Keck (Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation), Dennis Crane (Cassia County), Nicholle Braspennickx (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Project details: The City of Rocks Backcountry Byway is a 16.7-mile off-system project under the jurisdiction of Cassia County that begins at the entrance to the City of Rocks National Reserve and winds north.
The project’s environmental document identified one-half acres of wetland impacts. After much discussion and creative planning, ITD, the Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,the Federal Highway Administration, the Idaho Department of Water Resources and Cassia County agreed to develop a plan that would enhance nearby Castle Rocks State Park and meet the mitigation requirements for the project’s wetland impacts.
Approximately 10 acres of existing pristine wetland in Castle Rocks State Park was surrounded with a wooden pole fence in 2008 to reflect the ranch setting for the park. The area is restricted to pedestrian traffic, protected from cattle grazing and is allowed to grow in its natural state. A natural resources technician also was hired to monitor the area for the next five years.
Since the release of cattle onto the park property this spring (2009), the difference in foliage inside and outside of the fenced area is considerable.
The original estimate for creating the new wetland was more than $100,000; preserving the Castle Rocks State Park wetland was $51,560.