Just recently the residents of Wallowa County have been told of Mike Hayward's plan for the future of the Wallowa railroad. He has agreed to park abandoned rail cars from one end of the county to the other - from Joseph to Minam. There has been no apparent public discussion.
While it appears that no one but Mr. Hayward is privy to the exact wording of this agreement, what has been told is that the wording includes any rail cars not needed by various rail companies will be brought to the county and parked on all available rail lines. The numbers (2,000?) are staggering.
Not only will this be a visual blight of graffiti-marked cars that all community members will look at daily, the cars themselves may have been used for storage and transport for all sorts of toxic chemicals. These chemical toxins could then leach into our rivers, soils, waterways, wells and irrigation water.
How and by whom is policing to occur? All types of things could go on in the abandoned cars.
It is said that this is to save the railroad. How can it save the railroad when the rail line will now be unusable because it is blocked from one end of the county to the other by abandoned rail cars? The rail line, which is currently not in good repair, will further deteriorate beyond use because no maintenance can be done because of the parked rail cars. If the abandoned rail cars are ever removed, the rail line will have deteriorated beyond.
The rail bed is a notorious breeding ground for noxious weeds. This will become even worse because the rail bed will be non-accessible. This in turn will foil any nearby landowner who is making a good faith effort to control noxious weeds. What does the "Weed Board" say about this?
The justification is that it will pay for some of the railroad debt. This means the rail line is not generating any income to justify its existence. So after the suggested three years of this current trash storage, the line as a railroad still will not be generating income.
Of course, then the rail bed is further neglected and even more unlikely to be useable. this apparent easy source of revenue probably will be extended indefinitely. Have you ever seen a revenue source abandoned by the government?
We as individual citizens are told how high we can build our fences, where we can put a building, when we can turn on our irrigation ... the list goes on and on. Yet one council member can trash our valley at the whim of a pen without going through a planning process or impact statement. Where is public imput? Are we as tax-paying citizens going to have to stand by as this happens?
What is the real motivation behind this plan?
Say goodbye to the scenic serenity, scenic beauty and tourist dollar as our valley is filled with the trash of graffiti-graffiti abandoned railcars.
The railroad is a public issue. Where is the open and public discussion for the major issue?