If you notice a few unlikely hikers on the Badger Mountain trail this morning, don't be alarmed -- they're probably reporters.
The Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network plans to hold a news conference on the mountain today to unveil a visionary plan that's been nearly four years in the making.
The publicity is important, but the report's potential to protect our quality of life is lost without our elected officials.
The study ought to be required reading for every city council member and county commissioner in the Mid-Columbia.
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The vista from the top of Badger is a fitting spot for drawing attention to the document. For one thing, the summit offers panoramic views of the area incorporated in the plan.
But more importantly, Badger's trail system proves the value of open spaces and the strength of public-private partnerships to preserve them for posterity.
The comprehensive proposal has a long title -- "Vision Plan for open space conservation and trail connectivity in the Mid-Columbia Region." With a scope that stretches from Palouse Falls to Wallula Gap, the lengthy moniker seems appropriate.
The report is nearly an inch thick, incorporates the efforts of 18 groups and agencies in the Mid-Columbia and makes 50 various policy recommendations.
It's a great start.
Not everything envisioned in the plan will become reality. We're not even sure it should.
But the work behind the report has generated a momentum that ought to be exploited. That happens only if people pay attention.
The underlying concept -- that you can't plan for open space after it's gone -- is self-evident. But this effort reaches well beyond platitudes.
It calls for a coordinated regional plan that balances the needs for development and preservation, with the full participation of local governments.
The Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network's steering committee included representation from Benton and Franklin counties, Benton City, West Richland, Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.
A model already exists -- the Sacajawea Heritage Trail is a great example of separate governments working together to create a recreational corridor that crosses jurisdictional boundaries.
Our future depends largely on how well we can accommodate growth without sacrificing the things that make the Mid-Columbia attractive to new residents and businesses.
The plan -- and a lot of more information about efforts to preserve open spaces -- is available at www.rrosn.org. It's worth a read.
More importantly, it's worthy of serious consideration at city halls and county courthouses. We owe it to future generations of Mid-Columbia residents to ensure the report is a working document and not the latest dust collector on office shelves.