Idaho Fish and Game Commishes meeting in Coeur d’Alene approved in principal the $4 million purchase of land known as Hammer Flat east of Boise.
It was purchased by Boise City for $4 million in a secret deal. After repeated attempts by the GUARDIAN to reveal the true details of the purchase, city officials revealed they were essentially acting on behalf of the Idaho F&G fronting the $4 million until F&G could find the cash. It now looks like money from the Bonneville Power Administration will be earmarked to repay Boise City.
City spokesman Adam Park was quoted when the intent to sell to F&G was announced in March of 2010 saying the city could not allow hunting and would have a “deed restriction” in the sale. Gov. Butch Otter told the GUARDIAN at that time if hunting were not allowed, he would see the purchase was not made.
The city has banned public access to the 700 acre site since the original purchase, but a F&G spokesman said Thursday hunting definitely would be allowed if they purchased the land.
Here is the city press release obtained from a source outside the city:
The Foothills serial levy fund could be replenished by more than $4 million if a proposal to sell Hammer Flat to the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game (IDFG) is approved in December by the City Council. The Idaho Dept of Fish and Game Commission today voted to move ahead with the potential land acquisition at a meeting in Coeur d’Alene.
The purchase agreement under consideration would authorize the acquisition of the 705-acre property by IDFG using $4.23 million in Bonneville Power Administration mitigation funds. The City of Boise purchased the site in March 2010 with $4.1 million of Foothills serial levy funds.
“By transferring the property to Fish & Game, we are able to preserve Hammer Flat forever while replenishing nearly half the original Foothills serial levy fund for the purchase and protection of even more open space,” Mayor David Bieter said. “This is a tremendous victory for those who love Boise’s Foothills and want to see them preserved.”
“This is a great day for Southwest Idaho’s big game herds,” Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “Hammer Flat is the last remnant of historic Boise Front winter range for area deer, elk, and antelope. By working with the City of Boise and with funding from Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Fish and Game will secure and protect this vital piece of ground to help preserve these herds in the future.”
“In these difficult financial times the most powerful conservation measures leverage resources,” Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson said. “The Foothills levy is an excellent example of this, with the magnificent landscape of Hammer Flats protected and major portion of the original levy put back to work for other projects for future generations. It’s a great cooperative achievement.”
A public information session regarding the potential purchase will be held on Wednesday, November 30. Detailed information on the time and place will be available next week. Those not able to attend the public information session can send comments to the City of Boise at MayorandCouncil@cityofboise.com or by calling 384-4422.
The purchase agreement will not be complete until the Boise City Council considers and votes on the transaction in December. The exact date of the vote has not been set. If passed, the Foothills fund would be replenished in early 2012.
Hammer Flat is a vast plateau located north of Highway 21 above the Black Cliffs near Lucky Peak Reservoir. The property is contiguous to IDFG’s Boise River Wildlife Management Area, which serves as year round habitat for a diverse range of wildlife including southwest Idaho’s largest mule deer herd, pronghorn, elk, golden eagles, bald eagles, coyotes, long-billed curlews, Say’s phoebes, bluebirds, lizards and snakes. The site is a critical low-elevation winter habitat for mule deer and elk.
IDFG is currently conducting a baseline inventory of the wildlife and vegetation at Hammer Flat in order to determine management strategies for the property. Results of the study are expected in spring 2012. No decisions have been made regarding future allowed uses. If ownership of the property is passed to IDFG, the department has committed to conducting a public process regarding future management decisions, including potential recreational uses.
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