The Times 

Local homeowner supports Touchet Valley Trail


To the Editor,

I have volunteered and worked in many capacities in Columbia County. In those positions, I have attended many workshops and conferences in other small communities in the Pacific Northwest and have met many community leaders who touted the benefits of recreation in their own communities. They knew the positive impacts. I’ve always dreamed of a Columbia County filled with brown signs directing locals and visitors to hike, bike, fish, swim, camp, etc. We have so much to offer.

How does it benefit our community? Studies show that having recreational opportunities in your own community boosts productivity and lowers healthcare costs. Furthermore, it draws tourism which leads to attracting new businesses, lowering unemployment, and enhancing property values.

I participated in the annual Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) meetings in Columbia County for a number of years. These meetings are publicized for attendance by the entire community and new, thoughtful input was always greatly appreciated and respected. In these meetings, the state of the County’s economy is presented, there is a review of the ongoing economic development efforts, and the group reviews and prioritizes the ongoing short and long-term economic development goals. The CEDS results in a document which isn’t put on a shelf to get dusty, it is used to drive efforts by all parties involved in the county’s economic development. Because of this ongoing work, many goals have been achieved which have benefitted the community, including the recent development of assisted living which had been a community goal for many, many years.

In the last CEDS meeting I attended, the trail idea was brought to the group’s attention, placed within the CEDS document and voted within the top five priorities. Many involved were surprised, but as a result, sprang into action to pursue this. Many, many hours were put into writing the original federal grant which allowed us the opportunity to pursue the interest and feasibility of a system of regional, interconnected trails. Upon receiving this grant, community input was essential and required. There were many meetings publicized in and held in Columbia County (and neighboring Waitsburg) in which concerned and interested citizens alike, came together. City and County leaders and staff, past and present, also participated and offered professional input.

I urge community members and leaders to trust in the work of so many individuals and professionals who spent countless hours pursuing this trail, only having the wellness of the community in their heart.

Brad McMasters,

Columbia County homeowner


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