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Concern of trail erosion prompts city action

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Apr 22 2014 11:07:51 PM CDT

We had severe thunderstorms in our area Tuesday, and that rain can ruin outdoor recreation trails.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

We had severe thunderstorms in our area Tuesday, and that rain can ruin outdoor recreation trails. So the city of Pocatello is taking steps to ensure the trails aren't damaged permanently. But more than that, the city of Pocatello is concerned about general erosion on some of the trails in the City Creek area.

"We're trying to use City Creek in a more balanced way," said Lance Clark, outdoor recreation supervisor with the city of Pocatello 

The city of Pocatello has a lot of trails, but one area that's heavily used during the warmer months is the City Creek trail system.

Clark said when the trails were built in the '80s and '90s, there was little planning as to how trails eroding would affect other trails.

"What we've found is that certain sections of the trail are not holding up very well during increased usage and just passage of time," Clark said.

He said it's not just biking, walking and other activities that can wear down a trail – rain can too. Clark said a little bit of rain is actually a good thing. It can keep the topsoil down so it doesn't escape as dust.

But you get too much rain like Tuesday's storm, and all that topsoil will be carried down the trail into a water source. He said that's a problem because those water sources are supposed to be clean drinking water.

"What we go in and do is we try and minimize the amount of water that can build up on a given trail section,” Clark said. "City Creek was deeded to the city of Pocatello as a watershed. It's a designated federal watershed. We're obligated to protect it by law."

So the city of Pocatello's Parks and Recreation Department have started installing a geocell plastic-like fabric weaving. They build it into the trail and cover it with dirt. Clark said bike riders like himself often skid while on steeper parts of the trail. Clark also said this will help avoid trails getting deep grooves through them.

"This geocell fabric will resist that and it won't allow you to dig down below the surface, you'll just skid on the plastic itself," he said.

On Friday and Saturday, the city will be doing this erosion control work between bridges, starting at 10 and 11 a.m.  That means you won't be able to pass through the trail for most of the day while they're hauling dirt up trails and installing geocell weaving.

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