Blaine County and its cities are fast losing their institutional memories.

They must soon compile a history of how they developed over the past 50 years or risk losing the facts to the erosions of time.

The county and the cities should get together and hire a skilled historian to write the book on how the Wood River Valley came to be what it is today.

Once written, the book should become required reading for all public officials and anyone interested in local affairs.

Although some have died, most of the people who played major roles in shaping the plans and ordinances that govern development in the area are still alive today.

Interviews with the public officials and employees who got them on the books could supply important perspectives. The area’s comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances were not created in a vacuum. They are the result of extensive, often tense and sometimes raucous public hearings. They reflect deep local agreement on what most residents envisioned for the valley’s future.

It’s no accident that there’s no Walmart at East Fork and that downtowns are intact, unscathed by a freeway proposed in 1974. It’s no accident that sage hillsides are free of development and that farmland remains farmland. It’s no accident that most workers don’t file for unemployment every spring and fall as they used to.

Elected officials, public employees and residents come and go. If new ones are ill informed about local development history, the lack of knowledge will threaten both the landscape and local residents.

Memory loss is a terrible thing. Blaine County and city officials shouldn’t let it happen here.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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