Bob Nelson

My Voice

About the author

Bob Nelson is a retired resident of Cove.

My Voice columns reflect the views of the author only. My Voice columns should be 500-700 words or as space allows. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. We edit submissions for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We do not fact check. We reject those published elsewhere. Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to .

A portion of a My Voice letter concerning economic development (The Observer, April 2) was spot on … almost. The letter mentioned just about every form of recreation in the area except motorized. Maybe we need to look back at how the Mount Emily Recreation Area was funded. Seems like the overwhelming funds for that purchase came from ATV/OHV fuel taxes in the form of a grant.

Northeast Oregon is missing a significant piece of the off-highway vehicles (OHV) tourism market. I have written on this topic before, yet there has been no response from our area leadership. None… Just complaints about how little money people spend here.

Why not open up some county-level roads to OHVs? Many community members voice approval of this concept, yet our local government officials, chambers and other business leaders seem not to take this as a serious tourism opportunity. Why not? Can local businesses afford to dismiss those monies?

I agree that we should open the Wallowa Canyon RR track area to trails. Accessible to all, especially the OHV group. Will this create some conflict? Sure, but shared use agreements can be made. This should be about economic development, not perceived turf.

In April 2010, I offered a suggestion to bring some badly needed funds to our region. How about an RV park at the base of Mt. Emily that could attract OHV people to the area? My preference would be a privately owned park just below the old landfill area. As an alternative, the Union County Fairgrounds also sits at the base of the MERA area and could be an ideal location for a small county-run RV and tent park.

There are some RV sites there, but the lack of on-site septic/sewage is an issue. The fairgrounds has no connection to the La Grande main sewer/water system.

Not only could a park in one of these locations be used by people accessing MERA, but it could be an excellent camp for use during fairgrounds activities. All outdoor recreation people could also use this spot as a launching point for some great activities. An excellent example of a county-operated park is in Morrow County next to the Grant-Morrow OHV park.

A Union County RV park would not be much competition for the two private RV parks in the area, as the one on Island Avenue seems to have a pretty high occupancy rate and the other is 11 miles to the south.

I am willing to sit at the discussion table and help move projects like this along. We cannot sit back in apathy and wait for something to happen.

The citizens of Union County need to be proactive in attracting economic opportunities.

While I often differ in opinion with the author of the April 2 My Voice letter, she at least is willing to use her voice. Not a lot of citizens step up to that plate. Thank you to that author.