No to Greenbelt Initiatives
As an avid bike rider and frequent user of the Greenbelt pathway, I think it is senseless to promote bicycle travel on Garden City's Nature Path as proposed in Initiatives A and B. A $727,000 taxpayer-funded grant to build a West Side Bridge thankfully completes a desired continuous bike corridor from Lucky Peak to the City of Eagle. To build a superfluous bike lane on the south side of the Boise River through Riverside Village would make the primary justification for this expensive bridge a fraud. A vote for these unreasonable initiatives would result in a scandalous waste of precious taxpayer money and, in effect, create a boondoggle bridge to nowhere. As a property taxpayer and utility bill "round up contributor" supporting the Greenbelt, I believe limited funds should be invested in existing infrastructure needs and should not be squandered on a parallel and redundant bike route.
In my years of experience working for federal land management agencies serving a resource planner, I have worked on many road/trail development projects. In my opinion, the completed feasibility study related to these initiatives likely underestimates the final costs. Based on regulatory, environmental and public safety best management practices governing urban recreational projects in this sensitive riparian floodplain, there are significant engineering challenges to construct a mixed bike/pedestrian lane. Citizens of Garden City should not approve these proposed initiatives given the uncertainty and financial risks involved.
The guiding principle established in comprehensive city Greenbelt pathway plans is to establish and maintain a diverse spectrum of recreational opportunities. These strategic recreational preservation commitments to the public supersede any building developer's vague site plan drafted over 30 years ago. The fact is, Garden City's Nature Path is one of the few remaining recreation settings on the Greenbelt that does not discriminate against the primary interests of underrepresented hiking/walking user groups. In addition, the connectivity of several endangered urban wildlife travel corridors between the river and adjacent wetlands/ponds will be impacted and threatened by the construction of this inessential bike route.
Taxpayers have demonstrated amazing generosity and support for recreational bike riding in the Treasure Valley. Therefore, the demand by some to needlessly ruin one of the last undeveloped walking paths on the Greenbelt seems intolerant and selfish. I trust these initiatives do not reflect the values many responsible riders share in the community. I urge Garden City residents to vote "No" on Initiatives A and B and rebuke these misguided and divisive initiatives, save taxpayer money and protect an endangered recreation resource.
The Other Side of Lochsa
This is in response to Scott H. Phillips' letter to the editor in the Oct. 17 Boise Weekly (Mail, "Keep Public Land Public"), whereby he opposes a potential land exchange known as the Upper Lochsa Exchange. Mr. Phillips' opinion article is extremely misleading and relies on a number of false or incorrect statements. First, Mr. Phillips claims that the U.S. Forest Service and the American people are getting the raw end of a potential exchange between the USFS and Western Pacific Timber that would result in the agency receiving "cut-over" and "denuded" checker board parcels currently owned by WPT. This could not be further from the truth.
The WPT Lochsa lands have been well managed for over 100 years. Healthy, well-stocked plantations cover many of the sections. Other parcels contain stands of well-spaced trees with multiple age classes. Yes, these private sections look different than many of the older stands on the current federal land, but it does not mean these lands are not healthy.
Additionally, Mr. Phillips conveniently leaves out the fact that the lands the USFS stands to gain are some of the most environmentally sensitive lands in the West. The Lochsa area is part of a vital wildlife corridor used by many endangered species and serves as the headwaters of the Lochsa River. According to estimates by StreamNet, there are nearly 123 miles of streams utilized by sensitive fish in the block, including spring chinook, steelhead and bull trout. Upon the acquisition of these lands, the USFS will have an opportunity to more efficiently manage lands in "blocking up" ownership within the Upper Lochsa area and will also allow the agency to effectively manage the water quality of the Lochsa drainage--critical for support of the water species.
Second, Mr. Phillips also falsely states that WPT would stand to gain a $150 million windfall from the deal. In support, Mr. Phillips sites a "research piece" done by "economist" Clarence Chapman. A link of the so called "telling" research paper (stoptheswap.net) is nothing but an opinion piece. The $150-million figure sited in the "report" apparently is grabbed out of the air, as there are no numbers or appraisal that would support this figure. It should be noted, however, that Mr. Chapman claims he owns property located within one-half mile of potential exchange land. It should also be noted that Mr. Chapman is not an economist at all. According to his LinkedIn site, he is an independent hospital and health care professional and previously did IT work for an insurance company in Arkansas.
Third, Mr. Phillips completely ignores the basic requirements that govern federal land exchanges. In order to protect the taxpayer, federal law mandates an equal value exchange of federal and nonfederal acres. As such, an exchange involving one party owning younger, and therefore less valuable, timber must be accounted for in the number of acres to be exchanged. In turn, the party owning the more valuable timber will get more acres back in an exchange. The values must be established by an appraisal, which must be in compliance with federal and state law standards. Accordingly, Mr. Phillips' claim that WPT would gain excess value in the exchange does not hold up as the USFS, under federal law, cannot accomplish any exchange in which equal values are not gained.
Finally, Mr. Phillips attempts to label WPT as a notorious and shady company. He also tries to "connect" the company to an owner who is no longer with the company--which he conveniently fails to mention. Even though this connection is totally inaccurate, WPT's record stands on its own. It has been in existence for 20 years and has an exemplary environmental record. WPT is also an important part of the community in the areas where it does business, as it retains local logging contractors and supports local mills and businesses.
Western Pacific Timber, land manager
Students Aren't Victims
Upon reading your article "Economics 101" Oct. 17, (BW, Feature) I take exception to the examples used to present student loans as creating "victims"--specifically, the woman attorney who attended two private (expensive) colleges (College of Idaho, Lewis and Clark College of Law), then took on a low-paying legal position ($38,500). These are conscious decisions on her part. She is not a victim. She had the option of public colleges (less money) and/or taking a higher paying legal position (Ada County pays $60,000-plus to start).
Please stop presenting student loans as creating victims.
Was it just me? What happened to my expensive audio system? On Oct. 9, after watching "The Voice" on local NBC affiliate KTVB, better know as the "... news LEADER. Visit our website ... KTVB.com ... gimme a break, please," I was enjoying the highly promoted following comedies, which include The New Normal. Now, I fully realize what a right-wing bastion I live in, after all, I was born here 62 years ago. And it makes my skin crawl that during this program, KTVB "... the news leader, visit our website KTVB.com," has a crawl screen across the bottom, warning me that the program I am watching may offend my delicate sensibilities, as if the Republicans hadn't done enough of that already. But during the night in question, the audio portion of the show disappeared. I thought it was odd, and I did a check on the system, when I heard the shows music in the audio, but none of the dialog ... strange and weird? I was hearing the music, but not the dialog. It was at a critical point in the series, where one of the gay characters was expressing his love and devotion to his partner. Has KTVB, "..the news leader ... please visit our website, KTVB.com, to further our revenue source ...", decided that I am not adult enough to make my own decisions on what I want to hear? WTF? Will somebody please explain this to me?