Wednesday, November 28, 2012

City is on track at Hulen Meadows

I am a member of the board of the Wood River Land Trust. I live in the city of Ketchum on the north side of town, and my wife and I frequently use the Hulen Meadows pond area for walking and biking. We have come to appreciate the pond and adjacent stretch of river for recreation, but are concerned about its current state.

Having attended several public meetings related to the planned restoration efforts and the city’s master plan, I support the collaborative efforts being put forth to address a complicated situation. In many places throughout the Wood River Valley, the Big Wood River has been altered to protect homes and businesses, often with emergency rip-rap and unnatural straightening. Areas that allow more natural river meandering and sediment deposition should be protected from straightening.

Unfortunately, if nothing is done to the Hulen Meadows pond, it will eventually become disconnected from the river, and the river will be constricted to a single channel along Highway 75. If this happens, sediment will continue to be deposited downstream near residences, and the chance of flooding will be exacerbated. The altered floodplain around Hulen Meadows pond has been a concern for more than 15 years. Unfortunately, past efforts to restore the floodplain have not been successful.

I have been pleased to see that the city has involved multiple stakeholders and the community in its current planning process and has been receptive to public comments. I believe that the city and its River Park Task Force are working hard to develop a plan that will benefit the river and floodplain, downstream homeowners and recreationists. Although the Big Wood River cannot be restored to its completely natural state, I am hopeful that this collaborative solution will result in a positive outcome.

Jack Kueneman



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