On Monday night, a split Hailey City Council scrapped plans for a 33-site campsite in Croy Canyon. Mayor Martha Burke cast the tie-breaking vote to reject a grant offer of $711,000 from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, a report said.
Croy Campground would have provided 24 pull-in RV sites and tent platforms on approximately four acres of a 28-acre city-owned parcel. It is located between Lions Park, Mountain Humane, and the Wood River Land Trust’s Simons-Bauer Preserve.
Monday’s council members reiterated their prior positions. Juan Martinez and Sam Linnet voted to accept the grant, while Kaz Thea and Heidi Husbands voted to decline it. In a unanimous vote, the council sold a $360,000 conservation easement that was meant to protect 22 acres of city property to the Land Trust.
According to Scott Boettger, Executive Director of the Land Trust, they plan to create a trail system that is accessible and wildlife-friendly through the property. The city will continue to own it. He stated that the organization will build a trail connecting Mountain Humane to Lions Park and extending Draper Preserve’s Hailey Greenway.
The campground project had sparked fiery public comment sessions in City Hall ever since its presentation to city leaders in January, in addition to a change.org petition that had gathered over 1,000 signatures in opposition to the plan. Monday’s meeting was attended by over 50 people. After more than an hour’s worth of tension between members of the public, and repeated requests from Burke for civility, the council voted 3-2.
Opponents of the campground pointed out traffic, wildfire danger, and disruption to wildlife. The supporters argued that a well-developed campground close to town would reduce camping-related impacts further out Croy Canyon, and bring in significant revenue for the city.
Sun Valley Economic Development executive director Harry Griffith told the council that he expected the campground to bring in approximately $6 million over ten years.
Many opponents raised concerns, including Croy Canyon resident Mark Acker. They feared that the campground would become overcrowded with ATV-riding kids and bring too many large vehicles into an already congested area.
Linnet, however, stated that he believes the municipal campground can relieve some of the pressure from scattered camping in the valley, and that wildfire risks from a four-acre camping area are unsubstantiated.
Burke, the tiebreaking voter, stated that she was unsure that the campground would be granted a conditional-use license because of its popularity.