This past Monday my Idaho City business (BoCo Sluice Box) was the “host” for the kick off of the third in the Idaho City Chamber Fall Tour Series. The day started out miserable, not raining (or snowing) anymore but chilly and overcast. I had announced one of my fall pop up days at the shop from 1pm-5pm and had talked a couple of my “girl crew” in to helping construct a scarecrow family out of odds and ends we gathered from the Sluice and our homes. The Idaho City Arts Council is having a competition amongst the homes and businesses that line Main and Montgomery streets. It was a fun afternoon and after much cheering from me, the sun did shine and the mish mosh, mustache family of scarecrows was born. Check them out below 😉
The tour group gathered and we loaded up and made our way to the end of Main Street and parked in the Idaho City High Shool football field parking lot. Our tour guide on this crisp fall day was John McFarlane, Superintendent of Schools and Secondary Principal for Basin School District #72.
Eighty seven acres known as the Idaho Center for Outdoor Education (ICOE) spread out before us. This project has origins dating back to 1999. A Public Services Act was passed that was a way to get land to non profits. A lease deal was initiated in 2011 and in 2016 the land was purchased by the District. I am including an information sheet our guide provided for us for best accuracy. (I hope that you can somehow read this/print it to read).
The area adjacent to this on the ICOE property is wetlands and a Wetland’s Specialist will be assisting with the Master Plan. A 3D archery range is part of that plan which will be developed utilizing a grant from Fish and Game and the Office of Idaho Drug Policy. There is potential for a zip line as one has been donated. An indoor science classroom will exist in this area and the building will also include a large foyer and a meeting room. The ICOE believes this is the type of facility that “if you will build it, they will use it.” The large foyer area will house a collection of 27 mounts of animals indigenous to Idaho which were donated to the school district and are presently on display in the High School library. A $17,000 grant is secured as part of this development. There was discussion about the Sparish Fork seasonal stream as well as the riparian area and work with the Army Corp of Engineers to repair damage done over the years by motorized vehicles.
We moved on to the area known as the Amphitheatre, making our way past the vault toilet built with grant money. This Amphitheatre area hosts an annual Career Day dedicated to the Environmental Sciences in association with USFS; BLM; Fish and Game and the like. A pavilion is planned that will be built by the Idaho City High School Shop class. The classes have already built picnic tables from redwood material garnered from the city’s old water tower. This pavilion will allow for year round access to this area. There was discussion amongst the group about the need for a cell tower to take this learning center to the next level. Cell services will allow for remote studies to be conducted once transmitting equipment is placed (in the stream for example). The school also works to build kits to be used by others who come to the facility to facilitate their studies. We also found the signs of students working on outdoor shelters.
Backtracking slightly, Mr. McFarlane spoke to us about the $60-$70,000 in grants that have helped bring the ICOE property to the level it is at today. He explained that only $2-$3000 of actual district dollars have gone in to the development, insuring no perceived misuse of tax dollars meant for the schools themselves. Plans for a rental yurt as well as an observatory for stargazing are also included in the discussions had with the advisory committee. This committee is made up of nine community members, faculty and school board members. There may be need for an executive board as goals become more of a reality.
Currently the school is working with Glen Bennett a local professional surveyor who is teaching a surveying program to 14 students. Much equipment was donated to the program including a theodolite. As we made our next stop on the property at the trail head, Mr. McFarlane explained that the group had surveyed the trail which is the only ADA approved in the state according to the incline. Much work is still to be done to get the trail completely cleared for ADA use but this finish surface is included in future plans. Terry Sexton is credited with the original work to flag the trail and the use of a mini excavator to clear this 1 1/2 mile course (to the top). The Dallman Dash is held annually as a cross country meet that is looked forward to by many students throughout the valley as well as here on the mountain. There was discussion about the mountain bike club in Garden Valley and the desire to have something similar that utilized areas of this property. Many schools are already using this center for a resource, it has incredible potential and is definitely worth your while to walk around and learn a bit more about.
The tour was at it’s end, it was time to head off to our business member Diamond Lil’s Museum, Steakhouse and Saloon for some beverages and food and chatter. Idaho Center for Outdoor Education, another great reason to be proud to call this lil’ mountain town home!
***Please note that this review is an interpretation and may contain some inaccuracies.
The rest of my week was eaten up with chamber meeting, a career fair at the school, buttoning things up for winter at our home and opening the Sluice today. Dinner with the kids while watching the World Series was a perfect wrap to this week of being home on the mountain!