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Bill To Limit Government Power In Creating Bike Paths Passes Idaho Legislature

Idaho Parks and Recreation
Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in north Idaho.

A bill on its way to the Idaho governor’s desk would stop cities from using their power of eminent domain to create greenbelts and bike paths.

Backers of the measure say these paths are not necessities like roads, and the government should have to negotiate if it wants to use private property. The legislation would apply to trails for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use.

Democratic State Rep. Ilana Rubel opposed the bill. She said it would make a new project -- like a new trail -- too expensive and cumbersome.

“It gives absolute power to the landowners that are in its path,” Rubel said. “Anybody that’s in its path can say, ‘Well isn’t that interesting. You have a little bit of land here and a little bit of land there and gosh it seems like you need to get through my fields to get that road together. That’ll be $5 million, please.”

Rubel and other opponents said the measure could be the death knell for greenbelts in Idaho. But agriculture, property rights and real estate groups support the bill.

The measure passed both chambers of the legislature. One Republican in the House and seven in the Senate joined Democrats in voting against it.