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Letters to the Editor 03/25/2015

To the Editor:

As a taxpaying member and a lover of the Sisters community, I am dismayed by the negative attention directed towards what generally is thought of as a positive thing - a trail through the woods - in this case, the trail from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch.

While I understand property owners are always concerned about "others" being in or near their neighborhood, (believe me, I've lived in a large city), I'm bemused by the outpouring of what appears to be fear - which clearly comes across as opposition coming from a certain sector of the Sisters community.

I also understand that some people are concerned that taxpayer money has been and may continue to be used to pay for the project and costs associated with the project. But that's what taxpayer dollars are for - to pay for projects that benefit taxpayers.

I'm sorry to see that the Forest Service has abandoned its plans to move forward on this trail, yet I am hopeful that the community will resubmit a proposal. I particularly applaud Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger's outreach to Oregon Solutions - an Oregon-based solutions finding group - to form a committee of representatives to look at economic, environmental and community objectives and come to an integrated solution that benefits all.

This takes collaboration and representation from all concerned parties, and eliminates one group from dominating the discussion. It also assures that all stakeholders will be heard. I know this and have experienced it because I currently serve on an Oregon Solutions team. As the representative of a small neighborhood that sits in the center of a huge storm of federal, state, county, regional, city and port concerns, we lived in fear of being overshadowed by lawyered, well-funded public agencies and large businesses (see Columbia River Repair and Accreditation; orsolutions.org/osproject/MCDD). Yet we were not. With measured and consistent participation, we were able to voice our concerns, relate the importance of our neighborhood, and state the value of our community in this regional matter. Individual landowners were also heard; the process makes room for all.

I hope Commissioner Unger is successful in his mission, and that Governor Brown accepts the trail as an Oregon Solutions project. If not, then I hope that the Forest Service, the city of Sisters, the Sisters Trails Alliance and other stakeholders will regroup. It is clear that professionally-led public participation and stakeholder engagement is needed here, as well as an understanding of what the trail will or will not bring to the Sisters community overall, now and in the future. Karen Kane

Karen Kane