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A path in Italy’s pristine Val di Mello is currently a bone of contention as the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Forestry Services plans to widen the trail in order to make it accessible to wheelchairs and the disabled. An appeal to protect the natural left bank was immediately launched by the Committee for the defence of Val Di Mello, that instead urges to use funding to improve the path on the right bank which is in dire need of maintenance. Over 16,000 people have signed the petition in less than a week. Read about what is threatening this beautiful natural habitat in the Italian Alps, and the open letter of Luca Maspes, President of the Val di Mello Mountain Guides, that urges for the plans to be reconsidered.
Photo by Comitato per la tutela della Val di Mello
Val di Mello: the path of the left bank often leads past natural obstacles such as narrowings, ancient steps at Cà di Carna, narrow passages between dry-stone walls, small side streams whose course change every year
Photo by Simone Pedeferri
Val di Mello: the path on the left bank and some of the obstacles that would need to be removed in order to widen the path to the planned 1.20m
Photo by Guide Alpine Val di Mello
Val di Mello: the path on the left bank and some of the obstacles that would need to be removed in order to widen the path to the planned 1.20m
Photo by Guide Alpine Val di Mello

Val di Mello online petition against path for the disabled

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The Committee for the defence of Val Di Mello, Italy, has launched an online petition against the planned expansion of an existing path that would make it accessible to wheelchairs and the disabled. While thousands have already signed in protest, Luca Maspes, President of the Val di Mello Mountain Guides, urges for the plans to be reconsidered.

Almost by chance a few weeks ago people found out that in Val di Mello, Italy, ERSAF Lombardia (the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Forestry Services) is currently planning to improve and, above all, widen the existing path on the left bank of the river in order to make it accessible for wheelchairs and the disabled. For those who know this beautiful Italian valley, the path in question is the one that starts at the Gatto Rosso restaurant and leads via a narrow trail further up into the valley, past two shallow fords, all the way to the last hamlet called Rasica, from where it should then return via the main path.

There is no doubt that the planned project would substantially alter that side of the valley and last week the Committee for the defence of Val Di Mello launched an online petition on www.change.org which in a few days has attracted more than 15,000 signatures against the planned project. A PDF document prepared by the committee explaining their objections can be downloaded here, while the local Val di Mello mountain guides have expressed their opposition, too. Luca Maspes, President of Val di Mello guides, explains their concerns.


THE VAL DI MELLO PATH FOR THE DISABLED

Does it make sense to forever compromise a pristine environment, in exchange for a path that is of limited and dubious use, because a main path already exists?

Similar projects could be implemented in many other places of interest to Ersaf. Without leaving Valmasino, there is for example the Predarossa plain, just as beautiful as Val di Mello, where a circular loop winds past artificial walkways, in truth currently in disarray and in need of maintenance. Or resources could possibly be used for proper, ordinary (ordinary!) maintenance of those paths that lead into Val di Mello’s side valleys, such as those in Valle del Ferro, Val Qualido and Val Torrone.

These are thoughts and ideas that we would have liked to share in advance, it is unfortunate that no one has ever asked for our opinion beforehand, only afterwards. An opinion we believe is important, because it comes from those who work and play in this valley far more often than occasional visitors; people who know Val di Mello like the back of their hand, who have shared their concerns in the past in order to leave the valley as it is: a garden where nature can be experienced in its original form, ie without it being altered irreversibly by human impact.

We have been in similar situations in the past: for example, when there were rumours regarding plans for hydroelectric power stations and roads that would allow four-by-fours into the valley. These, too, were discovered completely by chance, almost while the project was being carried out. And we always immediately tried to resolve the problem, sometimes we even won, thanks also the the help of all those who love the valley so much that they feel it belongs a bit to them, too.

The number of people who have signed the petition prove it. In just three days more than 10,000 have said "no, thank you!” to a project which at first glance might seem harmless but which actually risks being anything but delicate. A line would be traced right through the middle of the valley, modifying its "wild side", with a trail that in order to be more than a meter wide, accessible therefore to wheeled forms of transport, would need felling of trees, earth to be excavated, granite boulders to be demolished. In some sections these give rise to exciting and evocative meanders and narrowings, precisely because they have been created by nature.

Obviously I hope that all this none of all this happens and that we can review the overall project, reconsidering the section "Disabled path in Val di Mello" and going ahead with the other plans, such as dealing with the issue of the car parks and damaged bridges.

Those with disabilities who have already signed the petition have shown that they do not want to be used as an "excuse" to break down natural barriers, which have always been present outdoors, and ruin one of the most beautiful alpine scenarios in our backyard mountains forever.

Luca Maspes
President of the Val di Mello Mountain Guides

Click here to sign the petition on www.change.org .
Please note that if you sign the petition, you will need to confirm your signature by clicking the email you will receive.

Link: www.valdimello.it, FB Guide Alpine Val di Mello

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