City Government

Hammer Flat Declared “No Fly Zone”

Hang glider enthusiasts are at odds with Boise City–especially Team Dave–because they have been banned since the land came under public ownership using $4 million in public Foothills Levy funds.

John Kangas, spokesman for the group claims his fellow flyers have soared over the eastern edge of the city for 35 years from the Crow Gliding Area with minimal impact on wildlife. During the same period Boise politicos have encouraged growth through approval of developments, roads, and a bridge–all of which have significant negative impact on critters. A wildlife mitigation plan required of the developer seems lost in the shuffle.

While they were promised by Team Dave to be part of the decision making process a year ago when the City and Idaho Fish and Game entered into a secret sales deal, Kangas said the City did not offer a single hint the group would be subject to a “no fly zone” restriction until a “study agreement” was inked with F&G last week.

Kangas has released a letter from Team Dave and the group’s response in the wake of a contentious city council meeting where no citizens were allowed to speak prior to council consideration.

A letter from Mayor Dave Bieter dated March 21, 2001
Dear Mr. Kangas,
Thank you for including me in your recent email to the hang-gliding community. I appreciate your interest in the future of the Hammer Flat area and your patience as we navigate the complexities of properly managing this tremendous local resource.

I apologize for not having responded to your February 19 email, but because the City of Boise has been in the midst of negotiating a management agreement with Idaho Fish and Game, we were not able provide an update. With the agreement now in place, we can move forward in ensuring that the Hammer Flat area is protected from future development — the purpose of the Foothills Serial Levy and the reason levy funds were used to purchase the property.

I must take issue with some of the statements in your most recent email. Although it is true that “Serial Levy funds … promised increased recreation,” it is also true that levy funds promised increased wildlife habitat protection. In most areas of the Boise Foothills, those two activities are not in conflict; in some, such as Hammer Flat, they may be more so, given the uniqueness of the habitat and the sensitivity of the species that depend upon it. The goal of Fish and Game’s year-long baseline study of the area is to determine what level of human access is compatible with preservation of the resource. If gliding activity truly is compatible, then the study will prove that.

It is worth noting that, of 10,000 acres conserved to date, only about 700 acres — 7 percent — have been acquired solely for wildlife using hard cash from the levy.

Also, as I stated at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, ample opportunity will be provided for public comment on future uses of Hammer Flat before any management plan is finalized. To have opened the meeting for comment when no public hearing had been previously announced or publicized would have been manifestly unfair to those not in attendance.

I want to underscore my promise that all members of the public, including the gliding community, will be encouraged to take part in the discussions of the future management of Hammer Flat — but until we have a basic understanding of the biology of the area, such discussions are premature.

I’ve extended an invitation to you and your fellow gliders to meet with me at my “Saturday Office Hours” this week, 9 a.m. to noon at the Cole and Ustick Library. Available time to talk at that event will be limited, however; as an alternative, I would be happy to meet specifically with you and your group sometime during the next few weeks. Please contact my scheduler, Tracy Hall, at 384-4403 to arrange that meeting.

Thank you again for your interest and enthusiasm. I look forward to working with you and other members of the gliding community in the best interests of our great city.


David H. Bieter

Our Reply Dated March 24th, 2011

Dear Mayor Bieter,

Your letter dated March 21, 2011 thanks us for including you in our Crow Gliding Area Updates. You are welcome. We are however, a bit uncomfortable accepting your apology regarding your lack of response to our letter dated February 19th, 2011, in which we asked a simple question about the direction our City was taking in regards to the Crow Gliding Area. Rather than an apology Mr. Mayor, we respectfully look forward to your answer.

Now let us turn to the issues you have regarding our understanding of the facts surrounding this matter.

A Special Election was held on May 22, 2001 in which Boise Voters passed a serial levy property tax override and established a Foothills Open Space Protection Trust Fund valued at $10 million dollars. The ballot clearly stated that the Trust Fund would acquire open space and natural areas in the Boise Foothills.

The Ballot stated that the “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.” Mr. Mayor, the punctuation and the use of the connecting word and rather than the use of the optional word or in referencing these five goals, clearly underscores that these 5 items are not mutually exclusive.

The City should not choose only one and ignore all of the others. Furthermore, and as we are all aware, the type of balance outlined in the Serial Levy is achieved in Public Lands all across our great nation. This includes National Parks, and our very own Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area in which nature and human access and enjoyment is balanced.

What is even more important Mr. Mayor is what the Ballot did not say. The Ballot did not say that the City would use the funds to broker a property for an outside State Agency. The Ballot did not say that City would buy a property and then enter into an agreement with a State Agency that would lock the citizens from their land.

Just after the City purchased the Crow Gliding area and Hammer Flats, internal Fish and Game documents outlined their goals and strategy in regards to our land. In a letter from Jerry Deal to Gregg Servheen dated March 29, 2010 Mr. Deal wrote “We obviously have to make the best deal we can in the long-term interest of the Department, and within our means to accomplish it…However, any outcome that eventually leaves any part of the area in ownership other than the Department is likely to compromise future ability to manage it effectively…The city will also be under increasing pressure to provide recreational opportunities for its citizens on any property it retains.”

From the very beginning Mr. Mayor, we have held that the City’s process in this matter is flawed, and we are now coming to believe that it is intentionally so. In December 2005 your own folks from Parks and Recreation recommended that Hammer Flats be designated as Foothills Open Space and that access for “appropriate recreation activities shall be provided.” From the very beginning Mr. Mayor, the city of Boise should have held tours of the property and solicited input from the various user groups that could be integrated into an intelligent and comprehensive plan.

This would include hikers, bicyclists, hang gliders, equestrians, rock climbers, bird watchers, and dog walkers. The City did not. Boise should have held public hearings regarding any idea of brokering the property to Idaho Fish and Game. Once again the City did not and only private meetings regarding the matter have been held.

When the press began to learn of this misbehavior, the City Attorney recommended that information being shared by Fish and Game about the possible deal be modified so as to make it “squishy as possible, both for the City and F&G’s sake.”

Mr. Mayor, all of this makes the Hang Gliders and other citizens who attended the city Council Meeting and who have tried to partner in building a wonderful open space bewildered and disgusted.

Your concern Mr. Mayor, that “To have opened the meeting for comment when no public hearing had been previously announced or publicized would have been manifestly unfair to those not in attendance” is interesting. We had asked the City to give us notice regarding the matter if it ever came before the City Council, but regretfully we were not afforded the courtesy.

Rather, the agreement was quietly placed into the fast track general consent bucket. We received no more and no less notice regarding the agreement than any other citizen was afforded. Many folks having different perspectives regarding the agreement were at the City Council meeting, and as you are well aware, any citizen could have requested it be pulled from the bucket. Once pulled, you had the latitude to allow the public to speak about the use of our land. You chose not to. Furthermore and upon recognizing that citizens had taken their valuable time to appear and participate, you could have also recommended that the matter be tabled to include a future public hearing. You did not, and so the deal with Fish and Game was approved without public comment.

Finally Mr. Mayor, your statistic regarding total acreage is commendable. However, it is overshadowed by the fact that the City has spent 40% of our money on public land that we are not allowed to see or walk upon. “Public Land” that has been offered to Fish and Game for their benefit along with a bridge agreement that further prohibits us from using it.

And finally, Public Land that we are not even allowed make comment about in our own public meetings. For those in attendance of the City Council meeting and for those of us who have followed these actions, we find these behaviors by our elected officials and public servants to be unethical, arrogant and shameful. An apology may be appropriate Mr. Mayor, but not in regards to an untimely letter.

Once again Mr. Mayor, we stand ready to partner with our City, and to Save the Crow from narrow minded folks who believe that people are not part of this beautiful earth and sky. Accordingly, we will accept your kind offer and will be in contact with your scheduler to arrange a meeting between our group and yourself in the near future.

Feel free to call me any time if you or your staff have any questions.

John Kangas
Spokesperson, Idaho Hang Gliding Association

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Don’t vote for Dems? This is why libs and conservatives have joined the TEA party

  2. So the City and team Dave promise one thing then do the opposite…or they do not involve the public or users….so what is the surprise? That is the way they have always done busines….always have, always will.

  3. All of this closure of local areas for recreational uses is starting to take on a GESTAPO look to me. We have the effrontery at Lake Lowell going on by the FED’s calling a man made lake a preserve that needs to be shut down for boating and now we have all this stuff going on at Hammer Flats.

    We need to put a stop to all this. All the wildlife has manage to do just fine without all the efforts to close stuff down. The Lake Lowell deal is a “pant load” from the current manager and she will ulitmately dictate what will or won’t happen with the lake closure efforts. All the hearing and inputs are just boilerplate.

  4. I LOVE it!!! Now he is making enemies with the gliding community!
    They are seeing what a loser we have for a mayor! I hope most of this community live in the people’s republic of the north end. It’s high time they recognize this administration for what it is. Elitist, self-agrandizing jerks!!!

  5. Worry not Paul. Their money is running out. Just a matter of time now.

  6. Does anyone protest any more?
    Protest large groups of people with signs and voice’s. Whats with this young generation? They just lazy?

  7. I really get tired of people injecting Nazi references into an argument (GESTAPO look). It lowers the level of debate by trivializing Nazi atrocities.

    EDITOR NOTE–Our folks are talking about local politics and the term is commonly accepted with regard to any attempts by those in power to control dissent, be they coppers, big business, or politicos. We aren’t debating WWII.

  8. They sure are Robert. I would wager 80% of the people in this community under 30 couldn’t #1 tell you who the mayor of Boise is, and #2 couldn’t recognize a picture of him. They seem clueless to some of the crap he has pulled. It is the only logical reason why he was elected! Truly a sad situation!!

  9. I was born and raised in Boise and this is not even close to the town I grew up in and I’m only 31. It seems like the activities I grew up with just have gone by the wayside and it’s rather sad. Secret deals like this one really paint a bad picture when they try to say Boise and the Treasure Valley is a great place for recreation. It seems like team Dave is just trying to close off all the stuff they can. What’s next….closing the off-road areas we have out by Gowen Training Area?

    Skate World is gone and there’s the no-wheels ban in downtown Boise. My mom used to go to Skate World when she was a kid, they used to have a Saturday bus that would take them to it. Some may call it progress but it’s not the way it used to be.

    Here’s the BMC that I found, if this info is incorrect I apologize for the mix-up.

  10. Cyclops, I think your figures are in the ballpark. For decades politicos have carefully eliminated or divided large sections of the overall demographic in order to concentrate voting power. “Carefully” means having a superficial “get out the vote” message while spreading a more powerful “your vote really doesn’t matter anyway” undertone. This has resulted in low voter turnout and multiple minority groups, totaling a minority of votes having a majority of power. They use emotional distractors like abortion rights and environmental concerns to divide what would be a majority voter block (often husband and wife vote opposite in this group 1-1= 0). The net result is politics overall are pushed to the left. This is why GW looked like Jimmy Carter in policy. He was trying to please the center which has migrated to the left. Our Mayor is a tax and spend, I know what’s good for you lib, with a majority of votes.

    Additionally, people have lost sight of the basic purpose of government… use a small amount of tax money to serve the overall good. They have no concept anymore of what is out of bounds. We can thank our liberal teaching agendas for that… something which has been engineered and intentional… And successful.

  11. He has a majority of votes because he’s been successful in getting so many to stay home.

    If you want to fix this problem, turn out more voters. Turn out more taxpayers than taxspenders.

  12. grumpy ole guy
    Mar 27, 2011, 6:52 am

    I don’t think that the nostalgic “back in the days” arguments are relevant here, Boise isn’t what it was even 15 years ago, and can’t be. Change in inevitable, change for either good or ill should be planned, not “just allowed”. I voted for the foothills levy, and happily, in the hope that it would preserve the “natural world” so that change could be either slowed, or that negative impacts could be avoided altogether. The hang gliders haven’t had very much negative impact on the natural world, and, as the Guardian points out, any impact has certainly been a lot less than the bridge and the road(s) construction and the permitted building activities there. This seems like a pretty hollow attack on what may be viewed as a minority recreation activity. One of the great things about Boise has been the inclusive nature of interests and the variety of out-of-doors activities – too bad that Bieter and the boys seem determined to reduce variety and inhibit exploration.

    EDITOR NOTE–Kayakers are not only allowed, but the city is diverting the river, building concrete dams and touting it as an economic development project that will mean JOBS. The glider folks just need to hire a better PR firm.

  13. Kangas says, “the type of balance outlined in the Serial Levy is achieved in Public Lands all across our great nation. This includes National Parks, and our very own Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area in which nature and human access and enjoyment is balanced.” His argument is the ballot measure in 2001 did not exclude or favor certain uses or goals over one another.

    He objects to the Hammer Flats deal and its moratorium on hang gliding, and meanwhile he also appears to endorse the Frank Church Wilderness as an example “in which nature and human access and enjoyment is balanced.”

    Hang gliding is prohibited in the Frank Church Wilderness.

    EDITOR NOTE–And yet the Feds allow gas powered aircraft at numerous designated back country airstrips.

  14. Elaine, why don’t you just come on out. While your at it, are you going to run again?

  15. Random Thoughts:

    – Coming Soon! The Boise D.B. Cooper Memorial Hang Gliding Park! (Your Tax Dollars at work – an Urban Renewal District, of course. Don’t even think of hang gliding elsewhere, or you’ll be Tased.)

    – Hang gliders damaging wildlife habitat is vaguely reminiscent of the argument that bicycles damage wildlife habitat, so areas are closed to cyclists but still open to hikers, back yard barbecue parties, lawn mowers, etc.

    – We should be accustomed to these sorts of public property decisions; after all, the “Wilderness” area has been closed to all but “elite” uses for years.

  16. You suggest Boise City ignore the foothills plan that places a high priority on acquiring eastern foothills land for wildlife habitat, a plan whose funding was approved by Boise voters. In its place you propose, counter to provisions of the plan, after the city bought the land from a developer, gifting it right back to one of the developer’s acknowledged confederates!

    Guardian, that runs counter to everything you’ve harped on for the past several years.  I  know you hate Bieter, but try to maintain a some dignity.

    EDITOR NOTE– I will post your comment, but it makes no sense. I don’t really have a position… I just find it ironic the city has done all it can to pave and populate Harris Ranch and then strive to “save Hammer Flat.”


  17. Main & Cap, they are talking about hang-gliding, not growing dope! (that’s a little farther north) Maybe you could explain just how much of a “foot print” is left by hang-gliders? I would wager that it is far less than two years ago when the city was pushing to put a bunch of homes in that same area. Do you really believe Mayor bieter has “seen the light?” If you are capable of posting, you are obviously too smart to believe that. This little journey has more twists than a New York Pretzel! I still am asking the question, “just how do you sell something to a government agency and they tell you up front, that they have no money to pay for the land they purchased? Are you sure the mayor and council really have the best interests of the community in mind??

  18. Grumpy-
    Great points about non motorized free flight pilots being a minority group. If there were as many non-motorized free flight pilots in this valley as there are paddlers or rafters or mtn. bikers or hunters I somehow doubt that our group would have been brushed aside and ignored from day one.

    One irony is that in the long run all this noise that we’ve been forced to make (we would rather go quietly fly than be compelled to read policy plans and write letters) might actually bring our sport to the attention of other valley residents and over time our community might actually grow as a result – had the city worked with us from the beginning we probably would have continued to be a very very very very small group – essentially under the radar of all valley residents.

    David, I learned how to paddle with the Long family (Cascade Raft Company) when they first moved to the valley about 20 years ago at the age of 12. Whitewater parks are interesting beasts and my feelings and views about them are conflicted- it will be interesting to see how the Ray Neef WW park shapes the minds and understandings of new Boise boaters. My boating history is rooted in Secesh and S. Fork Salmon, MF Salmon, Camas Creek, Bear Cr., Clark’s Fork Yellowstone and other wilderness/roadless area overnight self support trips – those are the experiences that shaped my understanding of the natural world and wild places. I wonder about how artificial and “man enhanced” white water parks will shape the mind’s and attitudes of future paddlers and influence their relationships with wild places and desire to protect and look out for both the health and well being of those wild places as well as ensuring that they can someday visit and have access to those areas as well.
    14 years guiding on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the Frank Church has also shaped my understanding of wild places and how powerful, life altering and perspective shifting they can be for so many visitors.

    64.01% –
    You are correct – hang gliding and parasailing are prohibited in wilderness areas. This is largely a matter of interpretation as the wilderness bill does not specifically prohibit those activities, but the way the bill is interpreted and applied by land managers does preclude those uses. Hang gliding is allowed in Yosemite Ntl. Park on a permit basis in an analogous manner to how permits are issued to non motorized boaters on the MF/Main salmon rivers, Hells Canyon, and Selway rivers in Idaho.
    The main idea is probably less about what specific activities are allowed or prohibited in wilderness than that zero public access of any kind at all – as in the case of the Hammer Flats which is situated beyond and out of view behind the adjacent Crow Gliding Area – is certainly a different approach to land management and drastically more restrictive than how even our wilderness areas are currently managed.
    As a side note while pilots such as the famous Dorris brothers out of McCall have described conditions that would allow a non-motorized pilot to attempt a trans Frank Church flight the practicality of committing to such a wild place and a potential 4 day hike out with gear pretty much precludes hang gliding in the Frank from a practical standpoint. I know that just like many other private aircraft enthusiasts Kangas and his wife have enjoyed many flights into the Frank Church with their little 4 seater – even flying to Bernard airstrip on the MF for an elk hunt. We are lucky to live in such a wild state, aren’t we?

    Modern Hang gliding had only been around for about 3 or 4 years when the wilderness bill passed – and mostly just in Europe. It is worth pondering how the wilderness bill may have been interpreted with regards to non motorized flying craft had they been been around for as long as jet boats, lodges, private property, horse packers, airplanes and skiers when the bill was written then interpreted. Perhaps our activities would have been grand fathered in as well.

    Then again our silent, unobtrusive, off-the-public-conscious-radar activity probably would have slipped under the radar just as it has in the Boise Valley for the last 35 years. Sometimes it takes the whine of a Cessna 185 or the gas guzzling rumbled of 3 350 chevies blasting up salmon falls to garner public awareness. Wild.

    Exciting times.

  19. Guardian, I hope that’s not your photo. The erosion scar leading to the hang glider’s launch site proves the emptiness of their zero impact claims. Chopping off the bottom of the image does not make the ruts from their 4x4s go away. It’s an amateur attempt to punk the reader, easily exposed by driving by, or checking sites such as Mapuest (address 43.546920, -116.086121)

    EDITOR NOTE–Tony, We ran their picture with their letters. We did the same for you when you wanted to stop ACHD from granting access off Warm Springs.

  20. Aaron,
    I have no envy of your delight in gliding, as I find it similar to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. However, your pedigree in wilderness exposure and enjoyment seems above reproach. Your position is logical and reflects a good command of wilderness “history” here in Idaho.
    This exclusion is nothing short of criminal, and I would believe completely illegal as no exchange of “value for value” has occured. It appears that the city is, once again, hoping no one calls them on this issue. I can only hope that all of these questionable “policies” are remembered come November.

  21. Main&Cap/Tony –

    I’m sorry to hear that you think pilots are trying to “punk” anyone – (where does that term come from anyway? I think my sister said it is from a t.v show – I don’t know as I don’t own a t.v.). Yes a road up the ridge line is visible at the bottom of the image that Kangas shot about 10 years ago, and historically pilots had used that road over the course of the last 35 years.

    I can only speculate, but it would be interesting to know the origin of that road – one would guess that it may have been cut in for fire crews, or an early property owner, or someone running sheep or cattle in the foothills many many years ago. Hiking up the ridge to rivers highland valley trail there are a number of road cuts and skidder tracks still visible from years ago.

    In the six years that I have been flying the crow the previous land owners requested in our handshake agreement that we not use that road.

    I can’t speak to days when I was not present at the crow, but I can tell you that I’ve only seen a car up there once.

    Yes, it was my truck. And yes I regret that one time error. It was late in the evening and I was trying to impress a girl – that will get a fella in trouble every time. For the record I did made it to launch in time for a short flying session where I quickly launched, made a lap, then top-landed right next to said female. She never had to take a step and I stole a kiss with the wing still over my head, relaunched and repeated the process two more times. In the end though it was a mistake – both the drive up and the girl. I wished I hadn’t never tried to impress her that way. Oh, well.

    I have, like Ed Bottum – and I’m sure you, seen many more motorcycles than vehicles climbing both that road as well as the face and also riding down the face. It happened one day shortly after the city purchased the land, and I was absolutely irate as I realized what was at stake. I tried to yell the rider down so I could could converse with him one on one, but he never heard my yells over the whine of his two stroke.

    Zero impact would be a weird claim for anyone to make for any use. Appropriate, low impact uses are ideas worth discussing.

  22. John Kangas
    Mar 30, 2011, 7:10 pm

    Aaron’s observation about the ridge road, fire fighting, and safety are correct. Many of the ridge lines in our foothills have roads which serve as fire breaks and  provide fire fighting access. If the city ever decides to exercise due diligence and formulate a comprehensive management plan for the Crow Gliding Hill and the Flats where Tony Jones now lives, they would look at fire breaks and access for emergency vehicles. Given their desire to increase fuel loading by planting habitat brush, they could be negligent to not approach the issue with due care. Years ago we flew a TV news camera over a fire on the west flank of Squaw Butte and unlike a grass fire the flames from high concentrations of brush were reaching hundreds of feet into the air.

    We estimate there are 65 homes surrounding the Crow Gliding Hill with another handful including Tony’s on the far East Side of the flats. When we google earth Tony’s address at 9884 E Highway 21 Boise, Idaho we find that his scar on the land is in a dangerous location. His road will form a fire break, but if his good friends at Fish and Game cover the flats with brush, and a comprehensive plan for the area is not implemented, his “Private Idaho” on the east side of Hammer Flat will be at serious risk.

    For the 65 homes and families on the west side of the property, some of which are visible in the picture of the Crow Gliding Hill, the ridge road could save their lives and help protect their property from the dangers the City and F&G would create…with the rush to plant the brush.

    John K.

  23. Doesn’t seem very nice all around.

    Two things I know should not of happened in this conversation though:

    Guardian- should never of called somebody other than their Pseudonym (Main&Cap/Tony). Some may not post in the future because of that.

    John Kangas- should not post someone’s home address. If Tony wants to post it, that would be fine. Guardian should of filtered that out too.

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