It was a sad day earlier this month when I took a hike out Slaughterhouse Canyon. It was appalling to see the extreme hillside scaring that resulted from the BLM Travel Plan trail development. The path cut into the mountainside is a minimum of 5 feet wide stretching to 8 feet and more at some places. The cuts in many places were over 6 feet and the gravel scree debris left a scar that covered over 20 vertical feet.

I recognize that the BLM went through years of planning and consultation with the Wood River community. I read that plan and saw the lines on the map. I sat in on public hearings and presentations. But I failed to see the real impact on our hillsides. Without a doubt this trail work has created the most egregious desecration of our hillsides since the Forest Service terracing of the hillsides in the north valley to arrest erosion from sheep overgrazing.

I also recognize that local planning laws do not constrain state and Federal agencies on government lands. Yet there needs to be a reasonable recognition by governmental agencies of locally endorsed community values. Our efforts to protect the natural conditions of our environment is key to our economic success. It’s sadly ironic that economic success led to growth that led to recreational planning on BLM lands that destroyed that very treasured natural environment we all feel is critical to who we are in this valley.

BLM plan is for 70-plus miles of new trails. Bellevue is just the beginning

Tom Blanchard, Bellevue

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