Recreation and eastern Idaho go hand in hand. Residents and visitors alike flock to the area for world class hiking, biking, fishing, and paddling. The Teton Range shines in the distance and the Teton River flows just a short distance from communities like Driggs. But on Teton Creek, whose headwaters start on the west side of the Tetons and flow east through this one-stop-light town, public access and knowledge of the resources unique to this ecologically-rich tributary have typically been limited. This, however, is fortunately about to change.
This summer Friends of the Teton River, a Connecting Communities to Rivers Grantee, along with local partners Teton Regional Land Trust, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, and LegacyWorks group, jumpstarted the Teton Creek Corridor Project by securing a 2.5 mile public pathway easement along Teton Creek. This new pathway easement will connect Teton Creek and it’s parallel pathway with trails in Driggs city limit. The project partners worked with willing landowners along the creek corridor to secure their support and protect 289 acres of land from development. The American Rivers grant funding helped the partners purchase a 32-acre property in the corridor that provides a key connection for the completion of the public pathway. The acquired property also came with water rights, giving the project partners an opportunity to use these water rights to benefit both farmers and fish.
The first major benchmark for the project was reached on November 14th, 2016, when Teton County, Idaho Commissioners voted to approve the final connection of the proposed 2.5 mile pathway across the former landfill property adjacent to the creek, extending all the way to Cemetery Road, and accept the public pathway easements granted by private landowners. Once constructed, the pathway will be open to the public and provide a free, safe non-motorized recreational area for local families, with the path’s western end close to Driggs, and its eastern end near other public land access points. The path will be closed in winter, however, to protect local big-game habitat.
This project will not only drastically improve recreation, but it will also conserve and restore stream and wildlife habitat, maintain productive agricultural lands and help landowners be involved with the strong community vision. Friends of the Teton River Executive Director Amy Verbeten notes, “this project is far bigger than the mission and capacity of any one of the partner organizations. By coming together, we were able to accomplish what none of us could have done alone. To me, this project truly embodies the core principals of community conservation.” The Teton Creek Corridor Project will create a safe, family-friendly recreational opportunity easily accessible from Driggs, connecting local families to nature and the valley’s agricultural heritage, and providing economic benefit for the entire community.