After waiting for three hours as Humboldt County supervisors and members of the public pecked over the precise language of the General Plan Update, nearly a dozen people on Monday stood up at the board's meeting to speak out in favor of a county-wide trail system.
"I'm here today to support the language, the strongest language possible for keeping supporting goals and the goals of the open space element," said Dennis Houghton, who builds trails for the city of Arcata. "Again, the goals of this as I see it are goals. Not specific language setting up the roadmap. It's a general goal, it's a vision."
Eureka resident Pam Sistrom said she objected to the changes made in the original open space element review.
"I walked here today to prove that if there were trails, I would use them," she said. "I have to drive to the Hikshari' Trail and the Hammond Trail. It would be wonderful if we could get there more easily."
McKinleyville resident Nancy Stephenson said people expect to be able to see what communities have to offer while riding a bike or going for a hike.
"I think we need to ... keep the wording in," she said. "Humboldt County really needs to keep that vision. I think we need to ... make sure that vision is crystal clear."
The Planning Commission last month recommended a goal of the Conservation and Open Space Element section be changed to "consider well-maintained and accessible parks and trails offering a range of popular recreation opportunities" from "well-maintained and accessible parks offering a range of popular recreation opportunities and a county-wide trail system that meets future recreational and non-motorized transportation demands."
The recommendation provoked public outcry.
Supervisors briefly spoke on the issue.
Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg said he hasn't made up his mind yet on the open space element.
"I think some people don't understand trails in the open space, that's not the only place where it is," Sundberg said. "It's easy to take out of context when you don't look at the other chapters."
Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass and 1st District Supervisor and Board Chairman Rex Bohn said the board is very committed to trails, citing the McKay Tract Community Forest and Humboldt Bay Trail.
"There's a huge amount of effort going forward," Bohn said. "We're not going to stop making trails."
The board plans to continue its discussion on the Open Space and Conservation Element during the next General Plan meeting.
Earlier in the day, the board took several unanimous straw votes -- non-binding votes -- on portions of the GPU's Public Guide and Governance chapters.
Two issues discussed at length include defining the evaluation process for offering input on special meetings and workshops, and ensuring the county seeks and gives consideration to input from affected communities when decisions are being made.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.