For the week of April 14, 1999  thru April 20, 1999  

Bulldozers are knocking at Blaine County’s door

Smell the pure air. See trees from horizon to horizon. Walk to work. Enjoy the neighborliness of the people.

What a great place to live!

But for how long?

The Wood River Valley and the rest of Blaine County may seem immune to losing its charm, its openness, the respect and protection for its scenic gifts.

But beware. Other communities that once treasured what the Wood River Valley now has long ago lost out to the pernicious influence of developers.

Consider the havoc bulldozers have wrought in the nation’s fastest growing area, Maricopa County, Arizona, where more than 20 communities in metropolitan Phoenix now compete for growth.

The once graceful, isolated and picturesque desert north of Phoenix and Scottsdale has been scraped clean to make way for ticky-tacky, wall-to-wall housing, which makes way for more autos that add to one of the nation’s most noxious valleys of poisoned air and most congested and dangerous street systems.

Perhaps too tardily, the public and politicians are truing to put the brakes on growth with new laws. Closing the barn door after the cow’s been stolen is a perfect analogy.

And look at Atlanta, which has doubled in developed land area in five years.

A common denominator drives this hunger to bulldoze Mother Nature for building subdivisions and strip malls as far as the eye can see.

To wit: people escaping from one urban mess, only to help create another urban mess in another place

Californians who watched their urban centers deteriorate into joyless canyons of concrete and ribbons of traffic jams are fleeing in search of what they lost.

Blaine County has time, and surely the incentive and energy, to preserve what will be irreplaceable if ever mowed down for clumps of new housing.

Open space needs to be acquired and preserved for public use, with bonding if necessary. The county’s pioneering comprehensive plan is a beacon for common sense political decision on land use.

And Blaine County has an asset rare in most growth areas-- a cadre of passionate, activists willing to lead the fight for preservation against rapacious growth.

Hailey architect Jon Marvel’s victory in the state supreme court-- the right to outbid ranchers to lease and preserve state land-- is a model of the determination that runs strong and deep in the Wood River Valley.

Make no mistake: any political decision to cave into senseless land development at the expense of Blaine County’s traditional agricultural and environmental treasures might well be met with another Marvel-ous display of public resistance.


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