By John Kangas
For 35 years, silent and beautiful Hang Gliders and Paragliders have graced the Boise skyline above the Highway 21 and the iconic Crow Inn.
Many have enjoyed eating steamed clams and just watching the gliders. Generations of Boise gliders have enjoyed their first flights on the Crow’s gentle hill. There is nothing like it in Boise–it cannot be replaced.
Ten years ago, Boise voters approved a $10 million Trust Fund Serial Levy that promised to acquire open space for public use. A year and a half ago, we were excited to learn that Boise had used the Trust Fund to purchase the Crow Gliding Area along with Hammer Flat. Shortly after the announcement, glider pilots enthusiastically met with Boise Parks and Recreation to discuss our rich history of gliding at the Crow Hill. We shared our willingness to partner with Parks and Recreation and to have a community gliding site similar to that in Salt Lake City or Missoula Montana. Not unlike the special use kayak course currently under construction in the river west of Fairview.
Although we did not understand his relationship to Boise City at the time, Ed Bottum from Idaho Fish and Game was also at the meeting. Bottum manages the wildlife management area adjacent to the city land.
A few weeks later, we learned Boise City officials were planning to sell Hammer Flat and the Crow Gliding Area to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Through a public records request, we learned that Boise Park and Recreation Director-Jim Hall told Fish and Game in a closed door meeting the deal would have to include the “Boise City Council concerns of no recreational access or dogs, except for hunting.” Hall discussed “firearm safety, short range weapons, and season closures” with Fish and Game. Records also show that Hall was “not inclined to allow” our silent and compatible gliding activity.
In March of this year, and while refusing public comment, the Mayor and the Boise City Council followed Jim Hall’s recommendation and gave complete management control of the property to Fish and Game. Public records show that Ed Bottum from Fish and Game drafted and now enforces the ownership bridge agreement. Bottum is also conducting the “Base Line Inventory” that Boise City claimed was the reason for the management agreement.
Bottum was recently quoted in the Statesman disclosing the study is “…not going to tell us anything we don’t already know.” What Bottum is not sharing, is an internal Fish and Game memo he wrote about hundreds of deer, elk, and pronghorns wintering on the property during the SAME TIME we were hiking, biking, and gliding at the Crow year round.
The bridge agreement gives Fish and Game total control of our city property and allows only “wildlife related activities.” The agreement does not define the term, but references the Boise River Wildlife Management Area Plan also authored by Bottum. The plan states that wildlife related activities include hunting and trapping. The stated purpose of the Fish and Game area overlooking Boise is to “increase game populations to meet the demand for hunting and trapping.” Bottum’s plan does not consider visitors hiking, running, bicycling, or exercising their dogs to be wildlife based recreation. This is a direct conflict with our serial levy trust.
Ironic that we coexisted for 35 years with the deer and antelope, now F&G seeks to ban the gliding public so those same animals can be shot to death.
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