Our guest post is written by a guy who describes himself as Lifetime Boise Resident and Spokesperson for the Idaho Hang Gliding Association
By JOHN KANGAS
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 IDFG (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
they can be harvested. No mention of managing people and outdoor activities.
EDITOR NOTE — The GUARDIAN has filed a series of public records requests to determine if there is a plan or negotiations on the part of Boise City to sell, broker, exchange or act as the “banker” for a third party acquisition of the land. We have been promised the records by May 27. While we appreciate the original intent of the Foothills levy, we are increasingly skeptical that it is being handled according to the letter and intent of the law.
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May 22, 2010, 11:56 pm
The foothills policy plan calls for the acquisition of open space. Mr. Kangas is correct that one purpose of Open Space acquisition is to acquire “Lands that provide recreation opportunities”,
However, the The Foothills Policy Plan, the document that governs the spending of the Foothills Levy money/, and management of acquired properties, also lists five other categories of open space. Significantly, number one on the list is: “Lands that protect natural and wildlife resources.” (Executive Summary, Boise Foothills Open Space Management Plan for Public Lands, pp. 2, line 2.)_
There are a number of other sections of the plan that place wildlife preservation on its own level, equal to, and in some places superior to recreational uses. Let me suggest pp 7 “WILDLIFE IN THE BOISE FOOTHILLS, Goal – Wildlife habitat and related corridors should be protected and enhanced to sustain wildlife that depend on the Foothills for survival., Objective 2, Minimize human disturbance.”
Cutting to the chase, it is consistent with the letter, and intent, of the Foothills Policy Plan for Boise City to use Foothills Levy money to buy land for the purpose of protecting wildlife, and not use the land for recreation.
As an aside, it is completely legitimate for the city to employ an agent of their choice to manage the area. As a cosignatory to the Foothills Plan, and long time manager of the adjoining BRWMA, IDFG would seem to be a reasonable selection. Their willingness to do the job for free is an added bonus.
May 23, 2010, 9:09 am
A little followup on Mr. Kangas’ bullet-list of “Facts”. And I apologize for the length.
The first bullet’s lack of validity is covered at length above. The FPPs intent is consistent with IFGs larger mandate and thus does not constitute subversion of the Foothills Levy mandate.
Contrary to Bullet Two, at least three outdoor user groups HAVE been contacted by either Boise City of IFG or both. My sources indicate that one of the groups contacted was Mr. Kangas’ hang glider group.
Contrary to Bullet Three, Public meetings HAVE occurred. At least one meeting was held at the Harris Ranch Community Meeting Hall. Formal invitations were mailed to residents living within a prescribed distance of Hammer Flat. Four Neighborhood Associations were invited, either by mail or by phone. About 35 people attended. Comments ranged from open’er up to close’er down.
(Note – Nothing in the FPP or the Foothills Levy seems to require public meetings or outreach re ultimate management plans. And, I am not aware of similar meetings associated with other foothills purchases.)
Regarding Bullet Four – Following the City’s announced purchase of Hammer Flat on March 9, when substantial numbers of wintering animals were still present on the flat, there was an influx of hikers, motorcyclists, and 4x4s into the area. Many of those involved could have been charged with harassing wildlife. By comparison, locking the gates was a pretty reasonable alternative.
May 23, 2010, 10:02 am
May 23, 2010, 10:33 am
Can we get a train or anything on rails up there……Not!
May 23, 2010, 12:08 pm
This situation strikes me as similar to the off leash dog issue a few years ago. more transparency and discussion and a willingness to look for solutions that meet the needs of most parties would go a long way. this doesn’t mean that i think things should be wide open, it does mean that the easiest answer seems to be “lock ’em out!” and that is wrong. the hang gliders don’t seem to be the problem here, it’s the folks who irresponsibly entered the area after the purchase. those who could have been charged with harassing wildlife should have been talked to and then charged if their actions continued. but it’s easier to lock everyopne out.
May 23, 2010, 12:13 pm
The GUARDIAN is to be commended for asking questions, uncovering slim and exposing it to the light. Being an admirable watchdog which we need given the “new ethically challenged administrations” of various varieties.
Grateful recognition to The GUARDIAN!!!
May 23, 2010, 7:06 pm
Wow, what a piece of work this Kangas guy is. Having saved the deer from death by subdivision, he thinks it’s his right to terrorize them with his hang gliders. He should be banned, from the planet.
May 24, 2010, 6:54 am
If they bought it for the public?
Then open it up to the public!
May 24, 2010, 12:04 pm
Portions of Hammer Flats serve as a leeward, south-facing wintering ground for a small portion of the mule deer population that migrate down from the IDFG controlled lands, and some of the human-introduced elk from the same area.
It also offers some predator protection since it abuts the basalt cliffs to the south. Unfortunately, there’s no water source or food vegetation for these wintering animals.
Currently, it’s the cliffs that offer the most heavily-used recreational opportunity — and their climbing use during nesting season is already restricted via agreement with some NGO’s. Unfortunately, IDFG is not a wildlife management organization — it’s a state agency that regulates the issuance of hunting & fishing permits for state-regulated game. Birds aren’t very high on that list, and habitat preservation that may benefit a full ecology (but which offers little in return for hunted game) is not habitat that the IDFG has much resources to devote.
If Boise City wants to see the Flats used as a wildlife preserve, it would do better to partner with the Peregrine Fund, Birds of Prey, or the Elk Foundation than a resource-depleted state agency like the IDFG.
The IDFG could still be involved as a management partner for the land — primarily to lend legitimacy to grant applications to the Feds. But the agency doesn’t offer much to the public, except a sparse Game Warden presence.
May 24, 2010, 8:25 pm
I didn’t think this thread could get any loonier, but I forgot Gunderson.
Tell us Dean, what predator is big, strong, and fast enough to count deer as its prey, has managed to stay alive and remain undetected in the canyon lo these many years, and is too stupid to follow the deer tracks around the ends of the cliffs to the booty that lies above?
May 24, 2010, 9:50 pm
Something smells funny
May 25, 2010, 11:57 am
Something you don’t like about the Peregrine Fund or Birds of Prey?
Spend a little time up on Hammer Flats near the cliff edge — you’ll find plenty of deer carcass remains from predation (and remains along the bottom of the cliffs). Whether this comes from coyotes that culled out sick animals or from some of the feral dogs that roam the hillside seems pretty irrelevant. Most of the mule deer herd doesn’t migrate through Hammer Flats (because of the cliffs) — it goes through the lowlands to the west so they have something to eat along the way and can access the Boise River.
But Boise City has already approved that tract of land for development (Harris Ranch). Perhaps as that development progresses, more of the mule deer population will be driven to Hammer Flats — there just won’t be any access to water from there.
This would make it even more important to have a managing entity with the resources to address this problem — which (unless there’s a major restructuring of state resources) isn’t going to be the IDFG.
May 25, 2010, 2:48 pm
“Cutting to the chase, it is consistent with the letter, and intent, of the Foothills Policy Plan for Boise City to use Foothills Levy money to buy land for the purpose of protecting wildlife, and not use the land for recreation.”
Tony, I wish I’d have realized that when I voted for that levy many years ago. As a native Idahoan and long time “recreationist”, this is disturbing. I am all for helping out the mule deer. I have hunted them, respectfully and legally, for almost 40 years. Likewise, I took my first hang glider flight at the Crow gliding area in 1978. I have been flying there since; quietly and peacefully. We hike up the hill, quietly launch, quietly fly, and quietly leave. I have flown over deer who were bedded in the ravine and didn’t spook them; we just enjoyed the peace and quiet beauty of the place together.
This “lock-em-out” mentality was NOT what I voted for when I voted to spend MY MONEY to purchase acreage in the foothills. It was so the land would not be developed and turned into condos, and people locked out. In hindsight, I wish Hammer Flats WOULD have been developed. We talked to the developer, who was willing to let us continue to fly and even offered to make a park in the area of the hill, so we’d have a nice smooth place to land, and kids could come out and watch and maybe do a little hiking instead of sitting at a computer playing video games all day. Other people could hike the hill and enjoy the gliders.
Generally speaking, I don’t have much good to say about California, but as a case in point, look at San Diego; they recognized the beauty of silent flight and have a wonderful glider park at Torrey Pines. Many people go out there to sit and enjoy the day and watch the gliders fly, not to mention the many participants of the sport who go there frequently.
Too bad Boise’s elected officials can’t get a clue. Our use is quiet, clean, doesn’t make noise, doesn’t tear up the landscape, doesn’t bother the deer, and was appreciated for many years by the locals in the area who’d watch us fly.
Well, it’s no surprise. All good things… sigh.
May 25, 2010, 3:09 pm
Dean, Maybe POW is referring to the borzoi that roam on Hammer Flat.
May 25, 2010, 3:51 pm
I think the Paragliders need some patience. I am sure some compromise will happen. In the the mean time, stirring the pot will only cause bad will.
May 26, 2010, 11:01 am
Law and Access:
Our organization has been prepared to engage in a full planning process which integrates all interests. We believe we can prove our long term compatibility with the Open Space Plan and the Boise voters Open Space Levy. Perhaps, this is why the City is working with Fish and Game behind closed doors and not allowing public exchange.
In any long term land management plan, access is a key issue. The Crow gliding area is accessed from Highland Valley Road on the very west side. If the city was to open up access to Hammer Flats, the Crow Gliding Area would be a logical place for people to park and begin their hiking, riding, gliding adventures. Idaho Fish and Game already has access locked up on all other sides. The Crow Gliding Area is the final key to a total lock out of other compatible uses.
Legalities represent another problem if Boise wishes to transfers ownership of Hammer Flats to Fish and Game or a third party in the future. Boise City needs to honor both the Serial Levy and the Foothills Management Plan. Both documents integrate multiple uses including public recreation into the big picture. Of the two, the Serial Levy probably holds more binding clout. Idaho fish and Game on the other hand, is not bound by the Serial Levy if they or a friendly third party gain ownership. Pending transfer, one could see that it would be in Fish and Game’s best interest to not set precedent of other compatible land uses or to even engage in public meetings or discourse which requires records. If they ultimately gain ownership “their” interpretation of the 7 agency Foothills Management Plan would be their only guide.
Drop me a line at email@example.com and I will send you a copy of our open letter to the Mayor. Included in the stream of correspondence with the Mayor is an aerial photo which shows the logical access points next to the Gliding Area.