Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Change or die


Now that the speculative bubble in residential properties has not only broken but totally evaporated in the wake of the worst recession since the Depression, the Sun Valley area has been forced to return to its roots as a recreation-based economy.

Yet, when this fact meets other beliefs or mere preference, the fur can fly.

Take the proposal to create a whitewater park in the Big Wood River paired with adjacent public land owned by the BLM.

The park would meet the continuing need in the area to diversify and broaden recreational opportunities.

Yet, some residents of a nearby subdivision and some recreational purists insist that a whitewater park would ruin the area and be an affront to Mother Nature.

As interesting as the project itself are the objections commonly raised when changes are proposed in the Sun Valley area. At one time, homeowners near Bald Mountain objected to the noise of snowmaking equipment. Neighbors of a proposed soccer field in the city of Sun Valley objected to being forced to hear the sounds of children's voices. Neighbors of a proposed community workforce housing development next to the Ketchum cemetery said noise from the development would be an affront to men and women who served in the military and are buried there.

The Wood River Valley lies south of the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states, but it's not a wilderness area or silent retreat. It's an outdoor playground for young and old. That's its appeal. It's what supports the economy and gives homeowners a fighting chance to keep property values higher than those in other Idaho towns.

Suspending the area in amber won't help it; it will kill it.

Tastes and pursuits change and playgrounds must change with them. Skiing in Sun Valley started out with the Ruud Mountain chairlift on a Trail Creek Canyon hillside in 1936. The lift today is a relic and all the skiing is on Baldy with gondola access, deluxe lodges and wide, groomed runs.

Mountain bikes, snowboards, skateboards, whitewater kayaks and light backpacking gear all brought major changes to nonmotorized recreation.

Today, the Sun Valley area offers training in everything from snowboarding to mountain biking to rock climbing to horseback riding. It only makes sense to welcome an area where kayakers can practice safely, get training and have a lot of fun in known waters.

People in the area will come and go, but recreation must continue to change with the times. The day it stops changing, the day that people who hate the sounds of children's voices take control, the day the dead get more consideration than the living will be the beginning of the end.




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