IDAHO CITY, Idaho — A popular sledding spot near Idaho City will be open to the public after all, just weeks after officials said they were forced to shut it down.
A new operator has stepped up to manage and oversee Steamboat Gulch sled hill, meaning the area will reopen to sledders in time for Christmas.
The hill will open for the first day Saturday, Dec. 21 from 11 a.m. to dark. The fulltime schedule will be released later.
"Our hope was that someone could secure a permit and manage and operate the sled hill," said Todd Wernex, IDL recreation program specialist. "This is a great example of how working together, we can maintain and protect our valuable endowment lands, while also providing recreation opportunities that don't do damage to those lands."
The Idaho Department of Lands had announced earlier in December that they had no choice but to close off the sledding hill from the public. The foundation that had previously operated the hill had run out of money and relinquished their permit last year.
Popular Idaho City sled hill closed
The IDL let the site operate without a permit, but quickly ran into problems with people leaving trash, damaging trees, and driving vehicles up and down the hill.
The department worked to clean up the area and fix the damage, but installed a fence and gate to keep people out until an operator could be found. Because the sledding hill sits on on land owned by the public school beneficiary - not public land - it is not managed by the U.S. Forest Service or eligible for federal grants.
On Friday, the IDL announced that Doug Pottenger, the owner of Seasons Mountain Dining & Grocery in Idaho City, had signed a 2-year land use to manage the area and provide oversight.
"IDL expects that the new operator will provide an exciting opportunity for the public, while encouraging users to be good stewards of this public school endowment land," the IDL wrote in a release.