"I saw every sort of animal up there," he told Boise Weekly.
"Mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, a herd of 150 elk. It became clear that this place wasn't for human habitat."
He started thinking of the property as a possible animal sanctuary in the future. Then he decided to donate it to the Idaho Humane Society—from where he adopted his own dog, Zella.
Once the humane society got the land west of Bogus Basin, the organization wasn't entirely sure what to do with it.
"It was a challenge to find a way to benefit from the donation without developing it and hurting animal habitat," said Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, the executive director at the Idaho Humane Society, at a press conference Friday morning.
So he reached out to Doug Holloway, the director of the Boise Department of Parks and Recreation, and made a proposal: the city could buy the property for $240,000 using the foothills conservation levy, which would keep the area from being developed and create more recreational opportunities in the upper Boise Front.
In turn, the proceeds would go towards the Idaho Humane Society's major expansion project
The land connects to a smaller parcel of land the city of Boise acquired recently on Bogus Basin Road that could be used as a trailhead. A few trails under the Daniels Creek easement go right through the land as well.
"This was really the vision when our mayor and city council said they wanted more land in the upper Boise Front," Holloway said in the press conference. The Daniels Creek easement provides 14 miles of trail that connects Hidden Springs, Polecat Gulch, Bogus Basin Road and eventually Stack Rock. This purchase will continue to grow that conservation and connectivity.
David Gordon, the Ridge to Rivers Coordinator, told BW
the land won't require any cleanup since it's undeveloped, but because of the topography, Gordon said it's not conducive to building a new trail that would tie into the surrounding trails at this time.
"It's part of the puzzle," he said. "That piece of property is really neat, a cool place. [Acquiring it] helps protect the viewshed and wildlife values, but from a trail standpoint, we can't put a trail on that alone that would go from Bogus Basin Road to Sweet Connie [a trail within the Daniel's Creek easement]."
For Mayor Dave Bieter, the timing of this purchase couldn't be better. Just this past Tuesday, June 9, the city council approved a new foothills and open space conservation levy
to be presented to voters on the ballot this November. The new levy mirrors the levy from 2001, with $10 million devoted to acquiring and maintaining open spaces in the foothills and adds the Boise River in as a priority as well.
"There's nothing more beautiful in Boise than the foothills," Lewis told Boise Weekly
after the press conference. "Just to look up and seeing the evening sunsets. What was I going to do with 160 acres?"
The city council will vote on whether or not to purchase the property on Tuesday, June 16. Bieter said he expects the vote to pass smoothly.
Dr. Kirk Lewis, an orthopedic surgeon at the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute, bought 160 acres nine miles up Bogus Basin Road in the mid 1990s. His original plan was to possibly build a house on the old cattle ranch, but as he spent more time there, his feelings began to change.