Friday, August 15, 2008

National Geographic Adventure gushes over Hailey

Names Hailey a top 50 town for relocation

Express Staff Writer

Greg Melville, co-author of an article in National Geographic Adventure magazine that named Hailey as one of 50 best towns for relocation, has only driven through Hailey once. And here is what he had to say in his article:

"Hailey is not only a 14-mile drive (or kick-and-glide on the Wood River XC Trails) to Sun Valley, but there's nothing Gucci or Prada about this Mayberry town in the two-million-acre Sawtooth National Forest. Locals volunteer at the 395-foot ski hill—serviced by a rope tow and platter lift—and opt to work out on the area's vast nordic trail network instead of the posh health clubs up the road."

Melville, who also authored the book 101 Best Outdoor Towns, did say that as part of his research he spoke with guides and members of the Chamber of Commerce, but he could not remember their names.

According to Melville, there were two main criteria for his article. First, each town had to have a close proximity to a national or state park or ocean, which naturally allows for an adventure component. Second, the town had to be forward-looking in promoting recreation and preservation.

So, why not Sun Valley or Ketchum?

"Hailey is often overlooked with Sun Valley next door," Melville said.

Melville also cited Hailey's comprehensive plan for development that requires the preservation of green spaces along with new developments. He also noted the Wood River Trail System and the hard work of the Blaine County Recreation District.

"What was attractive about Hailey is that it is largely full-time residents, which gave it more of a hometown feel," Melville said. "It has some subjective parts to it, of course. But it has to have a vibrant outdoor community."

While Hailey's recognition sparks a feeling of pride for all of the Wood River Valley, the write up did take some jabs at Hailey's neighbors: the alleged Gucci-loving, Prada-wearing towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

But Carol Waller, executive director of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau, found no problem with the article.

"I think it is all positive," Waller said. "What it is featuring are towns that are located away from better-known resort areas—like Carbondale not Aspen, Driggs not Jackson, Hailey not Ketchum.

"It is not Hailey over Sun Valley."

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