Blaine County should remove the no-parking signs in the public right of way at Fly Heart subdivision. Homeowners have used the signs and towed at least one car to attempt to deny the public access to the road and to the river.
The county is in the process of suing the subdivision’s homeowners association. It’s not enough.
With enough legal maneuvering, lawsuits can grind on interminably. In the meantime, unsuspecting members of the public will be discouraged from using what is rightfully theirs.
Worse, long lawsuits can wear down elected government officials and make them susceptible to negotiated settlements in which they may relinquish rights just to make a lawsuit go away.
Idaho and the Wood River Valley have become the playgrounds of the rich. Access to the state’s legendary wild places is being blocked by people who would like to make them their own.
It’s a problem that will only get worse unless local governments and the state aggressively protect public rights of way.
Instead of waiting for a complaint that public access has been blocked or claimed by a private party, city and county officials should install signs and publish maps of public roads and trails.
Signs make it clear that people may drive a car or truck along a state road. They mark where cars may be parked in cities. It should be just as clear where vehicles may park on city and county roads and where they may gain access to the Big Wood River in developed areas.
Looking the other way will only leave mountains, forests, rivers, creeks and lakes locked away from the rightful owner—the public.