Only the segment of the Camas Rail Line from Reubens down to CuldeSac can properly be called the Breakheart Trail, I suppose. That’s the part with all the dizzying trestles and dim tunnels that were featured in the Charles Bronson Film of the 60s.
But officials from the State of Idaho, Nez Perce County, Lewis County as well as the Nez Perce Tribe are talking about 66 miles of bike trail between Grangeville and Spalding Park. Bill Mannschreck is something of a driving force behind this effort and spearheads activities in Lewistion.
But it is the presence of the State of Idaho in the figures of Leo Hennessy and Joe Stegner that gives this discussion an air of possibility.
Leo Hennessy, Idaho Dept. of Parks and Recreation Non-motorized Trail Manager, held a meeting at the Nez Perce County Commissioners’ Office on Oct. 29, 2009. He has looked done some research on the legal questions involved in acquiring the line. Apparently the line’s owner has both filed for abandonment and for rail banking. Neither process has been completed.
Deanna English of Grangeville has been working on the trail segment from Cottonwood to Grangeville for two years. She says if they could get the go ahead from the owners, that segment would be ready in a short time. She’d like pavement but recognizes that a gravel surface is likely to be the first stage. She notes that there is resistance to the idea from landowners along the trail. Fears of vandalism always arise in these Rails-to-Trails efforts. Leo says nationally those fears are seldom realized. Nevertheless, the Idaho County Commissioners are taking a neutral posture on the trail at this time.
Lynn Moss of Lewiston Parks and Rec promotes the idea of a letter of understanding from the counties, cities and the stae to take responsibility for maintenance of the trail should it be successfully railbanked.
State Senator Joe Stegner suggested that the proper way to approach this is to protect the entire corridor from Garngeville to Spalding as one entity. In light of that he argued that it should be the state that files for Railbanking. Stegner points out that the purpose of the railbanking law is to preserve right-0f-way for national security.
Leo Hennessey will pursue the possibility of his office filing for railbankikng. English continued to point out that it all depends upon bringing the owner “to the table.”
It’s pretty exciting to see people in a position to actually make this happen take an interest. The club’s involvement right now is pretty much just to be a public group advocacy group.