At a second public hearing on Tuesday, Blaine County Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a lawsuit against the Flying Heart Ranch homeowners for restricting access to the Big Wood River. This decision comes after an unsuccessful attempt to resolve parking issues with the HOA.
The Hailey subdivision put up "No Parking" signs and towed at least one car, effectively prohibiting people from accessing the river. The original plat agreement protects public access to the river and the private road.
Flying Heart Ranch had proposed a parking area close to the highway, but public commenters argued this spot would be too far away for elderly and disabled residents, among others. So the county’s attorney Tim Graves requested parking spots right by the two access points.
Flying Heart board president Tom Mistick rejected the county’s parking plan in an email; however, Graves said it was not clear if Mistick was writing on behalf of the whole HOA or just himself.
At the two public meetings, the county heard overwhelmingly from people who support taking legal action to protect public access to the river. But a few Flying Heart Ranch residents were present at Tuesday's meeting. One resident reiterated that littering is an issue on the trails, and she also said during mushroom season, people often enter her property to forage.
County commissioners say they’re willing to work with the homeowner’s association to prevent trespassing and littering. But they say these issues should be handled by the county sheriff, instead of being used to threaten public access to the river.
Blaine County also announced it will be putting up signs throughout the county that mark public access points.
Blaine County is committed to protecting all public access areas. These signs will soon be installed throughout Blaine County to remind everyone to help keep public access areas clean. Please be respectful and help ensure continued access for the future. pic.twitter.com/EMliI4JWt8
— Blaine County (@BlaineCountyID) August 1, 2019
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio