By editorial board • 

Don't let fringe elements derail local trail project

Here we go again.

During six hours of testimony last week, one local farmer provided thoughtful support for Yamhill County’s Yamhelas Westsider Trail rails-to-trail project. Several others added thoughtful opposition, raising legitimate concerns that need to be addressed if the project goes forward as planned.

That’s all well and good. That’s our democratic process in action.

For more than 200 years, that’s how opposing factions have solved their differences. That’s how they have fashioned workable compromises designed to best meet the needs of the community as a whole without unduly imposing on the needs of individual elements.

But we have suffered a serious breakdown on the local, state and federal levels in recent years. It’s threatening to destroy governmental embrace of the common good, and sadly, it surfaced once again during the trail hearing.

These days, it seems, your opponent isn’t simply failing to see the big picture. He isn’t merely coming to mistaken conclusions or going about things the wrong way.

He is trampling your rights in his rush to cater to a faction with greater means and influence. He displays no regard for your needs, freeing you to display no regard for his.

And you aren’t just going to make your case to local officials and accept their collective wisdom. You are going to get your way no matter what.

You will mount endless appeals in the courts. You may even resort to physical resistance. And you will engage in utter flights of fancy in expressing your opposition, as it knows no bounds.

This sort of stand is rooted more in anger than reason. And it is threatening the ideals on which our nation was founded.

Yamhill County is currently focused not on the entire 17-mile stretch of McMinnville-to-Gaston right of way, but on a single three-mile segment. That segment connects the communities of Carlton and Yamill, which would benefit immensely from a picturesque rural trail supporting hiking, biking, jogging and perhaps horseback riding.

Both sides of the former rail right of way are farmed, and farmers have raised legitimate concerns about trespassing, spraying complaints and farm practice infringements.

In response, the county has pledged to install fencing, post signs, police use and guarantee that traditional farm practices are protected, which seems reasonable. The relatively urban segment is inviting because it promises the most potential for tourism and local use and least for adverse farm impacts, and can serve as a test for weighing the wisdom of additional development.

Comparing the impact of a rural hiking and biking trail with that of an 87-acre landfill engorged with thousands of tons of garbage, as some opponents have, is absurd. So is the specter of the trail catching fire and trapping terrified users, and assertion of the right to farm the right of way despite lack of any lease or ownership interest.

We support reasoned debate designed to foster workable compromises a broad range of interests can live with. We reject angry obstructionist arguments not grounded in fact.



Thank you NR. The trail haters aren’t interested in calm conversations about the trail. There seems to be more interest in drama and ridiculous hypotheticals. I’m surprised more of the anti trail folks haven’t realized they should support it. After all, they will have all the vagrants and homeless camped along the trail and a simple ‘accidental’ fire could wipe them all out. Problem solved!