Fans of mountain biking and north Idaho's Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area in north Idaho are going to have to wait a few more months for license plates celebrating those two things. One official with the Idaho Transportation Department confirmed this week that the plates will be available at the turn of the new calendar year, not the beginning of the new fiscal year, which happened late last week.
During the 2010 legislative session, lawmakers approved two new plates, which will be added to ITD's offering of the more than 40 plates already available. The mountain biking plate was the brainchild of Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, who crafted the legislation for the plate to direct proceeds from the plate's purchase to go to fund mountain biking trail maintenance. The plate for the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness was the work of Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow. The funds from that plate will go to upkeep of the area.
Each plate includes a $35 fee for the first year a driver chooses that custom plate, an amount added to all other vehicle registration costs. Each year a driver chooses to renew the custom plate is an additional $25. Those extra fees are not solely intended for the biking trails and the wildness areas, however. The ITD highway fund receives $12 a year from the cost of custom plates. The rest of the money will go to the two causes.
June Sparks, spokesperson for ITD, says that the two plates are currently in development by the department. "These plates will show up on our website just prior to becoming available (and after final artwork is developed by the sponsors and approved by ITD)," Sparks wrote in an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com. The mountain biking plate will display a mountain biker on the left side, while the Selway-Bitterroot plate will have a moose to represent the wildlife in that area. The man who worked with Cronin to develop the legislation for the plate, as well as the artwork, Boise resident Geoff Baker, said in a blog post Friday that the plate design needs "a bit more time" before the final product is presented to ITD.
Cronin said that he believes the mountain biking plate could rake in as much as $10,000 a year, though others believe the state's take will be much more modest. To be continued as part of ITD's offering, both plates must each sell 1,000 a year for five year to avoid being discontinued by the department. Ringo did not say how many copies her Selway-Bitterroot plate would sell.
From the looks of it, the Idaho Legislature is primed to add at least one more plate to ITD's ever-expanding collection. Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said that he is behind authorizing a plate for the College of Western Idaho in Nampa, which is the only public or private college in the state to not have a state-issued license plate. That means that students at the college have been missing out on scholarship funds, though community colleges have taken in relatively small amounts when compared to the likes of Boise State University and the University of Idaho.