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Letters to the Editor 02/18/2015

To the Editor:

There are some basic reasons why I am engaged with this paved trail discussion. I see alignment here with all levels of government.

Senator Wyden has called out his interest to invest in recreational assets on public lands. He has convened a recreational assets committee in the past and out of it are some new biking connections between communities. Building on Senator Wyden's vision, the Forest Service is exploring how to improve non-motorized access to the Deschutes National Forest, and this trail from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch is one of the more promising possibilities.

On a state level we are hearing from the Oregon Transportation Commission that our transportation system needs to be multimodal, that we connect our communities and promote healthy alternatives for people.

At a Deschutes County level we are finding a lot of interest from locals and tourists who come here to ride our bike routes and spend money in our communities. Sisters and Black Butte Ranch have had a synergistic relationship. The business done in Sisters from Black Butte Ranch has been good for Sisters.

For these reasons, I see a lot of value in this paved trail. It is my understanding that the Forest Service is awaiting a resubmission of a trail proposal supported by the community. I have convened a planning committee to create a process for a community discussion regarding a paved path from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch.

I have asked Oregon Solutions to engage the community through an open dialogue to determine the community's interest in requesting the Forest Service reconsider it's decision to withdraw from construction of the trail that was proposed last spring. Oregon Solutions will come to Sisters and meet initially with community leaders as a step in preparing a process for holding a community-wide conversation that is open, robust and inclusive where we can all come together to listen, learn and talk in a respectful and productive environment.

I am hoping that this can happen in the next few months. I will make sure The Nugget stays fully informed of this work and that everyone, trail supporters as well as objectors to the last trail process, have the opportunity to be involved in the community-wide discussion.

I believe that it is my role as a Deschutes County Commissioner to bring people together, to listen and represent their interests.

Alan Unger

Deschutes County Commissioner