At a Blaine County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Wood River Valley residents voiced their concerns about a Hailey subdivision that is blocking access to the Big Wood River.
Flying Heart Ranch, the subdivision, is located along Highway 75 in Hailey. It’s known for having some high-profile residents — actor Bruce Willis owned property there, until he sold it last year.
County residents have been accessing the river through this neighborhood for years. But an issue arose recently when the subdivision put up its own signs prohibiting parking on the road. That’s despite an easement that gives the public access to the river and the road.
The original plat from 1979 outlines a 15-foot public easement along the river and "access to the roads and river." County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg says public access means public parking, too. He says the county is prepared to fight to protect the community's access to the river and the land.
Ryan Santo with the Wood River Land Trust says this debate could have implications for communities in other areas, too.
“There are many access points that go through neighborhoods for people to access the river," Santo says. "So the result of this could really set precedent for other communities to take action to block access.”
In a meeting with the County Commissioners, the Flying Heart Ranch's homeowner association said littering is an issue at the public access point. The group proposed a parking area about a third of a mile from the access point. During the public meeting, residents said this would discriminate against certain groups, like the elderly and kayakers.
The Blaine County Commissioners announced plans to sue the homeowner association earlier in July. Before officially taking legal action, they are asking the HOA to consider a proposal for two parking spots right in front of the access point. The HOA will have until next Tuesday, August 6, to respond, when there will be another public hearing on this issue.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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