Historic Ragg Station Trail 2002 and 2004 Project
The Ragg Station Trail is an historic wilderness wagon road that has experienced over 100 years of heavy use. This heavy use, combined with unchecked erosion, has culminated in health and safety concerns for stock users and hikers. The loss of original trail tread and/or the development of multiple pathways around bogs have lead to injuries to stock and people and there is a risk of losing a popular low elevation trail utilized by many Forest visitors. Erosion from this trail has also adversely impacted the adjacent Slate Creek watershed and spawning and rearing habitat for endangered steelhead, bull trout, and salmon. A plan to restore the trail was created to address these problems.
There were four goals of the Ragg Station Trail Restoration Plan:
- Restore an historic trail to an enjoyable, usable standard
- Protect critical fish habitat in upper Slate Creek
- Create jobs for Idaho County residents, Nez Perce Tribal members, and Forest Service force account persons
- Provide an opportunity to learn new skills in an educational, participatory environment
In order to repair the trail and staunch sediment flow, the installation of erosion control devices was needed. The construction of causeways and other drainage structures using rigging and dry stone masonry work was strongly supported by watershed, fisheries, and archeology divisions in the Nez Perce Tribe and National Forest. Additional support came from the Back country Horseman, several recreational user groups, a commercial outfitter, private foundations and organizations. There have been indications that success in this reconstruction work could allow for more job opportunities including collaboration and multiple funding sources for similar trail work in the future.
Under a training and development plan, the Salmon River Ranger District employed a regional team comprised of persons from Idaho County, Montana Conservation Corps members, and Forest Service employees to repair the trail and learn new skills. In a time when there is uncertainty for timber dependant communities like Elk City and unemployment reaches as high as 17%, the teaching of dry stone masonry techniques, climbing and rigging applications provide skills that can be used in the private sector in a variety of occupations.