Water cut in historic park prompts volunteers to try to save trees and gardens

SHELLEY — Vegetation in a historic park could die from the water cutoff, according to a nonprofit organization. Now volunteers bring buckets of water to save trees, grass and vegetable gardens.

North Bingham County Park in Shelley is a recreation area and has an RV park at the north end. The south end includes NBC Historical Parkwhich has a school, barn, rodeo arena and more.

Bingham County owns the entire park and has partnered with the Idaho Education Alliance for Solutions (IDEAS), a nonprofit organization that helps care for the historic side of the park.

According to the president of the nonprofit organization, Bingham County provided water to the historic side for more than 20 years, but one day the south side of the park’s water simply failed. not lit.

The water has stopped

“It started this spring when the commissioners and Parks and Rec told us we weren’t going to have any water, and we were like, ‘What?’ said Jacqi Sullivan, President of IDEAS.

The south side of the park has at least 10 acres of trees, vegetable gardens, grass and flower beds, and landscaping that a number of volunteers have built.

According to Sullivan, there has been no water for the south side bathrooms or water fountains since May.

Over the years, Sullivan said, the organization has hosted annual Idaho history tours for area students and hosted community nights, celebrations and other events.

“We started our tours and the water had just turned off, so we called and said, ‘Wait, no! We have tours we have – you can’t just turn it off. And they (the county) said, “Oh no, it’s actually illegal to hose down the south side,” Sullivan said.

Andrea Olson, EastIdahoNews.com
dead grass in the park
Dry grass at the NBC Historical Park. | Andrea Olson, EastIdahoNews.com

The bucket brigade

Sullivan said that for the past three weeks they’ve had a “bucket squad” on Wednesday nights. Members of the association and residents of the community came to help water part of the park with buckets to save the trees.

The Town of Shelley even brought their tanker truck to make the job easier for the volunteers.

Sullivan said at least 25 community volunteers showed up to help each week, from adults to small children.

It is obvious that the park is not what it is supposed to look like. A quick drive to the park shows how dry the grass and dirt is.

Bucket of water
Courtesy of Todd Sullivan
Children helping
Courtesy of Todd Sullivan
dead grass
Courtesy of Jacqueline Wittwer

All about the right to water

The north end of the park still has water and looks lush and green.

Bingham County Parks and Recreation Director Scott Reese said Parks and Recreation helps maintain the north side of the park while IDEAS maintains the south side. There has been a good relationship for years between the two. However, the water had to be shut off for legal reasons.

“We haven’t opened (the water) this year (on the south side). We were told by our civilian (assistant attorney) that we couldn’t provide water to the south side of the park because we didn’t have water rights and we certainly didn’t want to compromise the water rights of the county. It’s really unfortunate,” Reese said. “We’re just trying to follow the law.”

John Dewey, the Bingham County civil assistant attorney who helped resolve the issue, told EastIdahoNews.com it came to light when an organization was trying to lease part of the south end park last year.

“There are no water rights that extend to this southern end of the park – not that the county owns. County water rights extend only to the northern end. I was able to verify this by working with specialists from Rocky Mountain Environmental Associates,” Dewey said. “The county doesn’t want to violate Idaho law by diverting water where we shouldn’t be diverting it.”

green grass in the park
North Bingham County Park in Shelley. | Andrea Olson, EastIdahoNews.com

And after

Dewey said he was helping the county solve the water rights issue. He is working with the Town of Shelley to facilitate the acquisition of the NBC Historic Park.

At a town council meeting on Tuesday night, Shelley Mayor Stacy Pascoe and members of council discussed acquiring the NBC Historic Park.

“I think we need to move forward with acquiring this,” Councilman Adam French said at the meeting.

Dewey delivered an agreement to the council to acquire the park. The city is in the process of finalizing the agreement.

Pascoe told EastIdahoNews.com that a few years ago the city purchased a farm right next to the historic park.

“The Town of Shelley bought this farm as an investment, and the reason we did that is because they have two water rights. There’s a deep water well for drinking water and then there’s surface water rights so you can irrigate,” Pascoe said. “We have enough water rights to be able to transfer part of it to the park.”

He said the transfer would most likely take place after the city acquires the park.

“I have to say I’m really proud of our citizens of Shelley that they’ve been there and really put their hands and their hearts into it all,” said Councilor Kim Westergard, regarding the community that helps water the park. with buckets.

As for Sullivan, she said IDEAS purchased temporary water rights from the Bingham Groundwater District to try to water and maintain the park through the end of the summer.

She said it could take months to officially transfer water rights.

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