Letter: Open spaces vision worth preserving

February 9, 2014 

The Jan. 24 Tri-City Herald asks a question on Page A1, then answers it on C1. The A1 question: How should we brand ourselves to change how others perceive us? The C1 answer: Preserve open space, create a regional trail network, integrate it with our communities and local businesses, such as wineries.

Kris Watkins of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau notes how many people go hiking, walking, or biking, then go to wineries. Roger Brooks, the consultant working on developing a brand, says it's cool how people can hike Badger, then go to wineries. Imagine how many more tourists would come if that trail network was 10 times bigger than Badger Mountain, if it extended from Wallula to Vernita, if it connected our wineries, hotels, restaurants, and downtowns to our magnificent views and open spaces. Imagine if conventioneers stayed just one more day to take it in.

The C1 story was about the Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network winning the American Planning Association's national award -- as in best in the nation -- for its vision plan for trails and open space conservation in the Mid-Columbia region. It's a plan that can accomplish all this and more if implemented. That's A1 with me.

MIKE LILGA, Richland

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