Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Parking lot expansion completed at Kearney Rapids

by MACKENZIE REISS
Bigfork Eagle | June 2, 2021 2:55 AM

A project to expand parking at the Kearney Rapids Boat Launch and install a vault toilet has been completed just in time for the busy summer tourism season thanks to collaborative efforts from energy provider PacifiCorp and the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork.

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The parking lot at the Kearney Rapids Boat Launch now includes a vault toilet. Courtesy Paul Mutascio

The utility, based in Portland, uses the Swan River to produce electricity and performs periodic reviews and improvements to the surrounding area as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agreement. Back in the early 2000s, growing interest in the Swan River Nature Trail and the river itself first prompted PacifiCorp to propose the improvement project in 2006. However, the parking lot expansion fell off the company’s radar until the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork brought the proposal back to their attention.

PacifiCorp made good on their original plan and were receptive to the idea of adding a vault toilet to the parking area as well.

“We convinced them that that whole area needed a public toilet,” said CFBB President Paul Mutascio. “The closest public bathroom is a mile and a half away down the trail.”

Without an easily accessible bathroom, Mutascio noted that some trail users were doing their business alongside the nature trail which would then wash into the river when it rained.

“They agreed that we needed to expand the parking situation and also put in the vault toilet — they improved the entryway too,” he noted. “It’s beyond what I had hoped for.”

Previously, the site has been fraught with congestion and the parking area can now accommodate at least 10 vehicles and trailers.