Heading south on 95 from Winchester, I was again astounded by the expansive beauty of mountains, the Camas Prairie, especially heading into Grangeville. Bam, flashback back 50 years ago, when I travelled from Washington to Idaho to train/teach at Sun Valley stables. Immediate connection with the grandeur of the Sawtooth, Baldy, and all open spaces all told me, I’m “home,” as did the friendliness of town folks of the small ski town, and fabulous summer recreation.
Change was starting though in 1969, and I learned from longtime residents, and service folks, the cost of housing was becoming difficult, even as condos and town houses were going up. I was fortunate that first year, but in three years I knew I couldn’t afford to stay. Returned briefly in ‘91, leaving with sad heart for what was lost with the overwhelming construction and population growth.
Return to present. In my three years in the Camas Prairie area, I’ve witnessed similar rapid changes starting, especially around Grangeville, and I have to seriously question the rationale of the governor’s staff saying: “Bring lots more folks with six-figure incomes here.” The resulting higher property taxes could push folks out, especially those on fixed incomes. The use of solar, water conservation, recycling, improved garbage disposal should be mandatory before rapid development and population growth happen. Service personnel shouldn’t struggle to find or keep affordable housing. Law enforcement, fire departments, hospital workers, teachers, etc. are a vital necessity to keep growing communities healthy and safe. Boise and Lewiston have headlines showcasing these problems, and they could happen here.
It doesn’t take scientists to report climate change. Look to the mountains and see the lack of once prominent glaciers, migration change of different species, lower rivers, streams, lowering aquifers. The earth herself is telling us resources are limited, except solar rays.
We need to protect this area of Idaho and not let it be squandered so greedily. Folks here are friendly, wave all the time, help when needed. But in restaurants and coffeehouses, one hears concern for what’s rapidly happening. Respect is needed for this magnificent land, lifestyle, beauty, and yes, its limited resources, including fish and game. It’s beyond mandatory, it’s absolutely vital for the future for all Idaho’s children.