Ridge to Rivers 10-Year Plan Comment Period Ends May 8 

click to enlarge - A Ridge to Rivers November 2015 workshop brought out more than 60 people to chart the future of the foothills. -  - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • A Ridge to Rivers November 2015 workshop brought out more than 60 people to chart the future of the foothills.

The public has had since April to weigh in on the Ridge to Rivers 10-year Master Plan. Now, the comment period on the program that will steer the 190-mile trail system running through the Boise Foothills is coming to a close, with Sunday, May 8, being the last day to participate in a final survey of the plan.

"Our challenge is trying to find a solution that works for everybody," said Ridge to Rivers Program Director David Gordon.

The master plan will set the tone for the next decade of governance of the massive network of trails spanning from Highway 55 to Highway 21 in the Boise Foothills. The system is heavily used—112,000 users make approximately 1 million visits to it annually—and the growth is expected to continue in tandem with the population of the Treasure Valley.

The plan's developers hope public input will help preserve balance between trail users and the environment. Areas of contention within the plan include on-leash areas for dogs and access for those with disabilities. According to Gordon, there was anecdotal evidence of pedestrians, bike riders and equestrians wanting separate trails, but the public comment process has shown a broad desire for a shared-use system.

"When we went to the public, most people wanted to maintain the system that we have," he said. "That was a really cool surprise." 

After the conclusion of the public comment period, Gordon said the program will make appropriate changes to its master plan, which could be implemented as early as the end of May 2016.

The Ridge to Rivers partnership between the city of Boise, Bureau of Land Management, Ada County and the U.S. Forest Service has been lucrative. Annually, Boise provides $375,574; BLM provides $42,000; Ada County provides $35,000; and the Forest Service provides $4,000 to fund the trail system. According to Ridge to Rivers, parks and open spaces in the Boise Foothills generate $5 million in tax revenue for Boise and $2.5 million for Ada County each year.

A draft of the 10-year plan and link to the public comment survey is available on the Ridge to Rivers website.
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