May 20, 2015

Subject: Support for Paved Path from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch

Deschutes County Commissioners,

I strongly support for the proposed paved Black Butte Trail. I live in Sisters, Oregon, and enjoy all of the benefits of living in this beautiful forest, such as walking, hiking, skiing, camping and biking. Riding on roads or highways with cars is dangerous, for example, highway 242 west of Sisters. The "bike lane" for the first mile is narrow and in poor condition. Further west, there is no bike path and vehicles pass fast and close. I avoid riding on roads whenever possible.

We are blessed with many fine off-road trails in central Oregon, some dirt, gravel, compacted gravel and paved. In winter, dirt trails often get frozen or muddy. In summer, some trails get too dusty to ride and difficult to walk. I would definitely use a paved trail to Black Butte Ranch and beyond year round.

The benefits to our community are great, including economic, fuel energy savings, health, air quality, connectivity, a safe path to school for our children and happiness. The disadvantages we hear from objectors, such as cost to tax-payers, maintenance, environment, danger to wildlife near Hwy 20, cutting trees, loss of privacy and security are not supported by data from other paved trails, false, exaggerated and/or overrated.

As you might have gathered, I am currently an active and healthy senior of 70 years, but don't expect that to last forever. Someday soon, I may need the stability of a paved trail. Many others in our community and visitors have disabilities, such that they do not have access to our forests without a paved path. People with disabilities have a right to the same access to our forests as everyone else!

Thank you for you assistance in helping to bring such as treasure to our community,

Greg (George) Wheeler

Sisters, OR 97759