Environmentalists on bikes invade farm country.
Rural Yamhill County residents have been tangling with some of their county commissioners over the development of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. Opposed by many in the rural areas, the proposed trail
represents to them an encroachment by wealthy, liberal, urban folk into their area of commerce and, like many public recreation projects, looks good on paper, but may not be worth the problems it brings.
Yamhill County Chief Counsel Sadlo has lost his fifth out of five appearances before Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. Each time he is sent packing, commissioners Kulla and Olson send him back for more. With legal options likely exhausted, the pair of commissioners have now commissioned a $139,000 planning exercise with Alta Planning as an apology to the Friends of Yamhelas Trail for failing to infringe on the private property rights of adjacent farms. The Friends are disappointed they didn’t get the trail they wanted at taxpayers’ expense. Additionally the commissioners are planning to give the Friends $9,000 of COVID-19 relief money. Oregon has 180 state parks, many with safe
cycling opportunities that don’t threaten farmers livelihoods and they have great views. Alta Planning hosted Zoom meetings recently which prompted one property rights advocate, Billie Matthews, to comment.
The trail proposal is the result of a $139,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development. The proposed trail would be 100% parks related and funded by Yamhill County. Proponents of this trail have and continue to put forward a number of claims that have been publicly disputed.
- The claim: "The proposed Yamhelas Westsider trail is just like the Banks-Vernonia trail." The Banks-Vernonia trail is primarily through forest lands very little farm land. (by the way there have been problems on that trail). The Yamhelas Westsider trail on the other hand lies through farm land in fact it cuts right through some of the best farmland and farms. For a trail purported to be “rails to trails” one would expect it to comply with the Rails to Trails conservancy's position “do not fragment farms. Build the trail away from barns, crops or anything else that can be looted or vandalized.” And yet this proposed trail lies within feet and sometimes inches of barns and other ag buildings, cuts through farms and aggravates access to others.
- The claim: "This trail will provide a safe route for kids between Yamhill and Carlton." How is it safe when it will be hidden from view and dumps kids and other trail users on the Highway 240 three quarters of a mile from Yamhill, with no sidewalks or even shoulders combined with a narrow ODOT bridge and heavy traffic?
- The claim: "It will be an economic boon to Carlton, Yamhill and Cove Orchard." Maybe for Carlton but designed to bypass Yamhill and disruptive to Cove Orchard. It also jeopardizes food safety certifications for FruitHill and adjacent farms and impedes essential crop spraying.
- The claim: "It will be a scenic trip through farmland." You won't see much from the middle of a hazelnut orchard. You will get to experience the dust and dirt of normal hazelnut and field crop operations.
The balance of power is about to change on the Yamhill County Commission, as Commissioner-Elect Lindsey Berschauer is sworn in next month. This could make a difference on this.
|Post Date: 2020-12-07 16:38:12||Last Update: 2020-12-07 17:59:03|