Back in 2001 Boise voters passed a $10 million dollar open space serial levy to do five specific things. By statute, serial levies must do that which they say they will do. When we voted, our ballots stated that “approved levy funds will: Protect water quality; Preserve wildlife habitat; Provide increased recreational areas for walking, biking, and other outdoor activities; Limit overdevelopment and traffic; and Protect natural vegetation that prevents mudflows and washouts.”
This spring, Boise spent the last $4 million dollars of our trust fund buying the 700 acre Hammer Flats property including the Crow Gliding Area just above the Crow Inn. Immediately and without any public meetings or input, the city announced that Hammer Flats would be managed by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. One IDFG manager was then quoted saying this about Hammer Flats “If people are thinking in terms of additional recreational opportunities, they’re probably going to be disappointed.” Some reports stated that no new trails and roads would be built. Other reports indicated that even existing roads and trails could be closed. One thing is for certain, our expectations and our open space is being spun by Boise City and the IDFG.
The Fish and Game mission statement reads “All wildlife ... shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed ... for ... continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.” In other words, IDFG grows fish and animals so that they can be harvested. Nothing is said about managing people and outdoor activities.
What we don’t know: Why are Boise hikers, runners, bicyclists, hang gliders, climbers, equestrians, dog owners and other outdoor enthusiasts are being ignored by the city in favor of IDFG and their mission statement to grow and harvest animals? Why is Hammer Flats is not being integrated into the Boise Park and Recreation system where its many uses including winter habitat can be balanced? Just who in Boise City is making the decisions to ignore the citizens, and the letter and intent of the serial levy?
What we know: The final half of our Boise open space trust fund is now being earmarked to benefit the IDFG. Private meetings are now being held between IDFG and Boise City. Outdoor user groups have not been contacted by Boise City, including those who have expressed a desire to utilize the open space at Hammer Flats. No public meetings have occurred. The first time “we the people” will have an opportunity to comment “on the deal” will be when the City Council votes on the matter after IDFG and Boise City finish their private meetings. IDFG has already locked the gates to our land and has posted their signs prior to any agreement. IDFG will use No Trespassing Laws to enforce “their” lands.
John Kangas is a lifetime Boise Resident and Spokesperson for the Idaho Hang Gliding Association.