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.
Spokesperson, Idaho Hang Gliding Association
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