By HDN staff
Beaver Creek Road became the center of controversy Tuesday night.
The Department of Transportation revealed its intentions to spend $5 million dollars to do what Hill County cant afford to do itself. That is widen, resurface, rebuild, fence and ultimately maintain a 10-mile stretch of Route 234 where it passes through Beaver Creek Park.
The public wasnt impressed, and if it were in their power they may have canned the entire project on the spot Tuesday night. On the flip side, Hill County Commissioners made it clear that the county can ill-afford to let $5 million slip through its fingers. For those who have fought to improve the park, the magnitude of the publics outcry may have been unexpected.
With the array of issues presented by all sides Tuesday night, only one thing is certain rushing ahead with the project may be the biggest mistake of all.
We hope the impact of the construction process on habitat will be considered. Add to those concerns the results of a wider, faster road and the miles of unsightly fencing. It will all be permanent and, quite likely, it will forever alter the habitat and aesthetic value of the scenic park.
We wonder, what effects will a fence have upon riparian and upland grazing areas and on the migration and free range of the parks natural wildlife?
By the way, cattle are not wildlife.
Once the fence is installed, will the cattle, now restricted, increase sedimentation in Beaver Creek?
If cattle bring in $45,000 a year in park revenue through grazing fees, we wonder if it may cost less to do away with the cattle and thus, avoid the need of the fence? Would it be beneficial to wildlife, which, with cattle gone, would not have to compete for grazing rights?
What if we slowed the speeds on Route 234, thus avoiding cattle-car accidents. As one woman put it, we are responsible as licensed drivers to take care of ourselves. But because of a few irresponsible drivers, the state wants to fence us in like babies in a playpen.
Whatever the issues are and there are many now is our time as Hill County residents to voice our opinion. Speak loud, speak often, no matter what your point of view may be. Comment forms are available at The Havre Daily News.
Nothing is written in stone, but dont get caught straddling the fence. Your voice can make a difference.