By editorial board • 

Don’t let hyperbolic critics stonewall trail opportunity

The NIMBY element is in high dudgeon over the proposed Yamhelas Westsider Trail. Among more strident partisans, the rhetoric outstrips all reason.

We respect principled and thoughtful opposition. But fears whipped up over the trail seem greatly exaggerated.

To some folks, not in my backyard outweighs all other considerations, including recreational values serving to enhance quality of life and economic potential serving to make Yamhill County even more desirable as a vacation destination.

The major unfounded fear is a deluge of addled, addicted transients bent on terrorizing local farmers. The fact is, transients gravitate to places offering services, meals, income opportunities, locker facilities and shelter options, all free of charge. That roster includes McMinnville, but not the Yamhill County countryside.

In Mac, churches and agencies combine to offer food and clothing, medical and dental care, tents and sleeping bags, locker storage and social interaction, shelter beds and social services — well out of reach on a stretch of long-abandoned rail line winding toward Gaston.

Besides, most transients spend daylight hours panhandling at high-traffic venues like Albertsons and Walmart. Trudging miles to reach them isn’t feasible.

If the homeless were going to forsake that for a rocky bed on a long-abandoned rail line, they wouldn’t be waiting for a government stamp of approval or government improvements simply serving to make them even less welcome. No rule or regulation would prevent them from flocking west today.

One set of critics decries the county’s failure to incorporate a rail element, while another accuses the county of secretly plotting a grand commuter rail line connecting to TriMet. Adjacent landowners describe the specter of increased tresspassing by people and dogs, even though the county is promising to fence the ribbon of rail right-of-way on both sides, something many of them have never done themselves.

Some foes cite potential curbs on agricultural spraying, when, in fact, the only agency authorized to regulate herbicide and pesticide application in Oregon is the decidedly farm-friendly Department of Agriculture. Besides, the county is dedicated to post signs warning of potential dust, noise and spray, and to supply useful information about the crops under cultivation.

We favor identifying and addressing legitimate concerns, but staying the course otherwise. The Yamhelas Westsider Trail has the potential to become a virtually priceless piece of local heritage.


Scott Gibson

Absolutely correct. It is remarkable how many people want the county to remain static, kind of a mid-20th century fossil. This is a golden opportunity for the entire county that should not be missed. Kudos to Commissioners Primozich and Olson for being clear-headed on this issue.

Don Dix

A question about fencing. Farm fencing costs from $.75 to $3.00 per foot (approx.), depending on type. 12 miles of fencing (both sides) will cost between $100K to $380K. Where there is livestock, at minimum these sections should be electric or barbed wire, or both. Repairs and damage replacement must also be a consideration. Where are these considerations in the plan?

Yamhill County's website states, "The acquisition would preserve the railway in one single public ownership and address multiple transportation needs, including pedestrian, bicycling and future rail service." Wouldn't you say it's a little insincere to single out those critics who contend the county is planning a commuter rail, while they are simply referring to the county's own explanation of 'future rail service'?


I guess I don't understand the livestock fencing question. Isn't there fencing for them now? My livestock is fenced in and I don't plan on the Yamhelas Trail to replace or fortify it. That's my responsibility. And yes, we are on the trail. I may move my fencing so people using the trail will not come in direct contact with my livestock but in the end that is still my responsibility.

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