Friday, March 9, 2007

Cove Springs development makes sense

Carol Thielen is a Blaine County resident who owns a business in Ketchum.


As a longtime resident, property and business owner in the Wood River Valley, I must comment on the proposed Cove Springs project.

I have known the owners of the property for many years, and have always been impressed with their integrity and regard for their community and their neighbors. This is especially true of their plans for Cove Springs. They have spent years working on a viable plan that will have the least possible impact on the area.

They have asked for suggestions from many organizations, and listened and implemented change where necessary. The developers questioned the Idaho Department of Fish and Game early in the process about elk and deer and followed their advice. They moved building lots from the north end of the development, as requested by Fish and Game. Their idea of the development is to cluster homes together, rather than create urban sprawl.

Their proposal calls for using approximately 450 acres for housing. This is less than 10 percent of the land owned by Cove Springs. The agricultural fields and the remaining 2,600 acres (an area larger than the city of Hailey) would be placed under a conservation easement and would be managed and fully funded by Cove Springs. This would ensure that the rural, agricultural, scenic corridor that we all enjoy and value along Gannett Road would be there in the future.

Fish and Game suggests putting the development along Gannett Road, doing away with almost four miles of agricultural lands fronting the highway. It seems that the least amount of scenic impact would be instead to tuck the development a mile and a half off the road into the "cove" where it would be barely visible. This is the owners' intention.

The Cove Springs owners have made intelligent and sensitive plans by drawing on thousands of hours of on-site investigations and studies by highly trained professionals in many fields.

I also know that it is possible for humans and wildlife to live near each other. I live with four horses, five dogs and two cats, and the elk and deer in my canyon don't seem to mind a bit. They can be seen traversing the surrounding hillsides. Of course, we have all seen the foxes, coyotes and occasional moose, bear and cougar. We all adapt.

The public should know about the willingness of the Cove Springs team to work with concerned citizens and organizations. This is a responsible group of people. They are respectful, concerned and highly committed to retaining the quality of life and wildlife in the Wood River Valley. They are making intelligent decisions, listening to experts, and, above all, striving to make the Cove Springs project the epitome of what every community would hope to have.

Development is coming, and I suggest that this project would be the greatest example for developers in the future to follow. We should applaud this project and the developers for taking the time to research the future of the ranch and surrounding community and for their commitment to and respect for the values that we all share.

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