For over 26 years, the Wood River Land Trust has worked to protect, restore and enhance the treasured open spaces of our valley. That effort has never been more pressing than it is today. Because of the unprecedented growth caused by our new “Zoom Town” economy, the remaining open spaces are under greater pressure than ever before. The Land Trust has long strived to protect areas before they are lost—through partnerships, collaboration, community support and perseverance.
There are few remaining riverfront parcels in the north valley that are open to the public. Places like Warm Springs Ranch and the Sun Peak Preserve (Hulen Meadows pond) need our protection if we are to restore river function, protect habitat and maintain our connection to nature that we all treasure as a community.
The Land Trust’s efforts within the city of Hailey have helped protect over 3 miles of river frontage and 450 acres of contiguous open spaces that ensure corridors for wildlife, create places to celebrate family and add to our sense of pride of place. The Land Trust was instrumental in creating the Howard Preserve in Bellevue, which has become another beloved greenway, with popular swimming holes in the summer and community events like the Haunted Forest (in non-COVID times).
We need to double our efforts today to ensure these places are not merely protected from development but are appropriately enhanced and made available for our community and visitors to value and enjoy.
The vision we have for the Sun Peak Preserve touches on all three elements of the Wood River Land Trust’s mission: “to protect and sustain the treasured landscapes and life-giving waters of the Wood River Valley and inspire love for this special place for generations to come.” We’ve heard the community say it wants to see the river and riparian habitat restored, and it wants to re-create and enhance the Hulen Meadows pond as a recreational experience. We believe that people of all abilities and walks of life should feel welcome and able to access places like this to enjoy and connect to nature. It’s simple: We protect what we love. We need to ask ourselves, “Who is not at the table?” (or in the preserves) and how can we remove barriers so they can experience the wonder of our valley and help ensure these places remain special forever.
The city of Ketchum’s website has copies of the recent open house presentation on Oct. 21. Please consider reviewing the presentation and providing comments via their comment card link,
Scott Boettger is executive director of the Wood River Land Trust. He lives in Hailey.