Yamhill County Commissioners voted to accept a $122k grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation to put toward developing a master plan for the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. The grant will not fully cover the bill, however Friends of the Westsider Trail will kick in the remainder.
The proposed 17 mile trail has a long history dating back to the 90s with significant opposition from farmers whose property border the trail. Farmers have filed another appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals in July stating the trail would significantly harm farming operations due to required setbacks, and potential vandalism from persons trespassing on the trail.
Proponents counter that the existing setbacks are already sufficient and would not cause hardship. Fans of the trail highlight wide-ranging economic, health, and environmental benefits to the area including:
- Creating opportunities for financially disadvantaged members of our community to more easily commute from one town to another by walking or biking.
- Improving the health and well-being of all, including low income families by providing safe and secure places to engage in exercise and fitness activities.
- Providing educational opportunities to citizens to observe nature, farming practices, and conservation practices up close and personal.
- Increasing small business revenues throughout the communities touched by the trail via new business openings (bicycle rental, etc) and increased tourism visits to existing business.
Similar projects have been developed all over the US and have a long history of success. Documented negative impact reports are much harder to come by.