Whenever the topic of opening county roads to WATVs comes around, the question that pops up in my head is, has the county researched what its liability may be in the event of serious injury accident? Especially if it involved a vehicle that has been approved for public road use (regular cars and trucks), and one that hasn’t been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (WATVs).
The county level of government has given approval for use on public roads vehicles that have not gone through the rigorous testing and safety standards the regular cars and trucks we drive have gone through. If they have discussed this aspect to the issue, good for them. I don’t recall ever seeing this perspective being considered in what I have seen in past reporting. It could end up being a big money bill for the county.
It takes a team
I am writing about the creation of the Methow Community Trail and the Winthrop RiverWalk, though trails have been a way of life in the Methow forever.
In the early 1980s, the natural resource extraction economy was drying up and many jumped on the bandwagon to move the valley’s economic base to recreation, as it was obviously our best asset now. We put together a small team of local valley trail folks to plan and build a trail connector to link Mazama, through Winthrop and onto Twisp. Our vision was not new, it came from what had already been successfully done in Europe: Connecting communities, encouraging new businesses along its path and developing new trail links along the spine line.
Our team was planning, adding more members, making political connections and building momentum in those first years through the efforts of many. It is to note that John Hayes was not in the country those first years and became a member of our team after he returned to the valley, whereupon he soon became one of the leaders of our team’s efforts.
Part of our vision in the beginning and our lobbying efforts was for Winthrop to finally embrace its most valuable natural asset, its riverfront. Even today, not many Winthrop businesses have developed this asset in our tourist-driven economy.
The signing of another easement for the Winthrop RiverWalk by my friends the Jardins will hopefully help other business and landowners move ahead and embrace the town’s potential to add to its economic attractions and its natural features.
Our hats are tipped to those that have persevered all these years to bring the recreation/conservation economy to fruition, along with the many efforts to build and maintain our trails/recreation/preservation amenities that now drive our valley’s economy.