Chanting "no Rachel Road, no Rachel Road," about 75 members of Tapteal Greenway and the community rallied Sunday at the Amon Creek Natural Preserve in south Richland.
The group gathered in a show of concern they called "Hands Across the Creek."
They're worried Richland will extend Rachel Road across the preserve, which is a valuable wetland, destroying habitat for the hundreds of birds, rabbits, beaver and other wildlife that call it home.
Scott Woodward, president of Tapteal Greenway, urged everyone who turned out Sunday to attend the next Richland Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. May 28 and the city council meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 3 to talk about the road.
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"We have to show them the public cares about our preserve. There are no others like it in the region," Woodward said.
The controversy over extending Rachel Road came to a head during discussions about the proposed development of a new subdivision, Clearwater Creek, next to the more than 80 acres of preserve. The city council plans to discuss the subdivision at Tuesday's meeting.
However, Woodward and other members of Tapteal Greenway have worked out a deal with developer Hayden Homes to establish a buffer area between the preserve and the subdivision. Hayden Homes will donate about eight acres to Tapteal, and the nonprofit will buy another four acres for about $160,000.
"Just think, a conservation group working with a developer; odd but we made it work," Woodward said.
However, the city is requiring a right of way through the subdivision, included in the buffer area, to extend Rachel Road to Steptoe Street.
Nick Kande of Richland, whose home backs up to the preserve, said his three children and dog practically live in the preserve.
Kande, a duck hunter, says he takes particular note of the wildlife using the preserve.
"Bald eagles come here to hunt. There's many, many ducks, including cinnamon teals, which are pretty rare. It would be sad to see this go," he said.
"It's amazing the number of people who run and hike out here. It's used a lot. Between 7 a.m. and noon, you can see about 100 people out here running, hiking, biking. There are always three to four cars in the parking lot," he said.
"We don't want to disrupt, we want to educate. We don't want it to be a case of money talks and bunnies walk," Woodward said.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org