“Support Legacy Lands” Whitefish Pilot Letter to the Editor 5/9/2012

To read John Anderson’s letter on the Whitefish Pilot’s website, click here.

Support Legacy Lands

John Anderson

As a city councilman, business owner and resident of Whitefish, I am pleased to support and contribute my own resources to the Whitefish Trail project. Thanks to the boundless energy and enthusiasm of Whitefish Legacy Partners, and the generosity of many Whitefish residents, we are in the process of permanently protecting public access to over 2,500 acres of public lands surrounding Whitefish. To date, 19 miles of trail have been built and another four are on the docket for this summer.

Without a doubt, the Whitefish Trail is an invaluable community asset. It offers residents and visitors alike an opportunity to appreciate the importance of conservation in our local economy. Whitefish has persevered and even grown, despite the challenges we all faced during the Great Recession. Property values have increased, people have started new businesses, the number of new construction permits is roughly the same as a city many times our size, and a spirit of optimism pervades our everyday lives.

In addition to the tremendous benefits to our economy, these public lands offer vital watersheds for our drinking supply, important wildlife corridors, and unparalleled recreational opportunities. There are very few communities left in the West that retain such large and undeveloped public lands so close to town. It is imperative that we permanently protect public access to these lands. Doing so will ensure that future generations enjoy the same economic opportunities and amenities that have served us so well.

I am especially pleased that this asset is a result of a collaborative effort. It arises out of the Whitefish Neighborhood Plan, which was adopted by both Flathead County and the City of Whitefish. Additionally, the planning, execution, and partnership between Whitefish Legacy Partners and the city of Whitefish has been a uniquely successful and innovative relationship. Through these efforts, the city retains funds for the perpetual care and feeding of the trail.

However, $1 million of additional capital is needed is needed to finish the trail and permanently secure access to remaining portions of these public lands. Please join me on Thursday, May 10 from 6-8 p.m. at Grouse Mountain Lodge for an open house and public comment session regarding the Whitefish Legacy Lands. Make your voice heard. We need your help to plan for this invaluable community asset.

— John Anderson is a Whitefish City Councilor