City Government

Glider Fans Up In Air Over “Bottum Line” At Hammer Flat Launch Site

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.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Am I understanding correctly … that Boise’s recreation guy (Jim Hall) is one of the people opposed to recreational uses of the property?

    That is somewhat distressing. I would expect he and Bieter and other city people to be advocates in favor of the maximum possible usage by Boise residents, for multiple purposes. (Isn’t that what the levy was supposed to be buying us?)

    Heck! They might as well name it the Hammer Flat Wilderness Area, I guess.

  2. Bottum might be changing his tune.

  3. After reading, Mr. Jones’s comments in the linked article, I am very confused. What about the mythical beast, the Borzoi, the roam Hammer Flat? Do they cause any harm to the wildlife? Maybe he could answer that.

    From his Dog Bar website-” Phisto is seen relaxing after a trying day that required him to bark at an entire herd of deer. Good Phisto. “

  4. Comparing the River Recreation Park to a glider park is a huge stretch. The river park is replacing a 100+ year old structure which was being undermined and claimed the life of one river user summer before last.

    The canal company gets a new diversion dam and the city get improvements to the river which will benefit many besides kayakers.

    I’m all in favor of a glider park though. Besides Salt Lake and Missoula, San Diego also has a glider park. And I believe there are others. Chattanooga, TN maybe?

    EDITOR NOTE–And don’t forget when the GUARDIAN placed warning signs to floaters the city cut us off from all communications sent to the media.

  5. What a crock! That small sliver has been used for years with no consequences. People are young enough to do this for a finite time in their lives. I say let them have this area for a “GLIDER PARK”.

    In the words of all the great justifiers… think of the jobs and commerce this glider park will create. Why it may be worth millions to the local economy to have this park.

  6. Highland Valley Resident
    Dec 7, 2011, 3:43 pm

    There are a couple of misleading statements or perhaps misunderstandings in the Kangas opinion piece. The statement that “Boise had used the Trust Fund to purchase the Crow Gliding Area along with Hammer Flat” is incorrect. The Crow Gliding area launch site is and has always been BLM land. The Gliders traditionally used the Flats as a parking area and landing area. There have been those inconsiderate few who drove vehicles up a user-created road to the launch site. So we are really talking about a parking area and a landing area as being part of Hammer Flats. Also, the contentinon that the purchase was for recration only is overstating the intended goals of the Foothills Levy which include protecting water quality, preserving wildlife habitat, limiting overdevelopment and traffic, and protecting natural vegetation that prevents mudflows and washouts. While I support recreational use of Hammer Flats on a seasonal basis, I wholeheartedly support a ban on motor vehicles. There will be ample time for public input regarding recreation utilization of Hammer Flats. Let’s not rush to judgement regarding the intent of Fish and Game. This is an awesome agreement between a Federal Agency, a State Agency and the City of Boise.

  7. Nice find Borzoi!!!

    Mr. Jones fought to keep development off the Plateau (NIMBY) and used wildlife protection as one of main arguments. Apparently he is okay with his dogs harassing the wildlife though.

    This is the link Borzoi was referring too.

  8. Don’t they know the glider park creates new parking spots downtown, occaisionally?

  9. John Kangas
    Dec 9, 2011, 12:09 pm

    The Highland Valley resident has a balanced view but is mistaken on a couple of minor points.

    The State of Idaho owns the top of the Gliding Hill from the existing fence eastward. From the West side of the fence, including the launch area where our wind sock used to be prior to being removed by the F&G, all the way down the hill to Eastwood Place and the 60 homes is about 200 of the 700 acres purchased by Boise. The BLM is not involved and does not own the gliding hill.

    The remaining 500 acres of the purchased land extends southward up onto the Hammer Flats Plateau above the cliffs. The South end of this Plateau, is where the happy dog, above mentioned, will live out his days barking at ungulates secured by our tax dollars, electric bills, and hunting fees if the big deal goes through.

    When we drive across the big Highway 21 bridge towards Lucky Peak, the Gliding Hill and subdivision is on our left and Hammer Flats is on our right above the cliffs. They are separated by a creek drainage.

    In regards to the road to the top of the hill and its historic use; The road was used by gliders in years past with permission from the ranch owner at the time. Other folks later bought the property and we stopped using the road to the top per their request.

    For those who have been to the top the hill, the road continues past the gliding hill to the top of the main ridge. When we consider the severe risk of range fires in this area, this road to the top of the Gliding Hill presents an important fire break and provides critical fire fighting access. Neighbors should be very concerned if F&G or anyone else decides to plant brush on this ridge line and abandon this road. The BLM and their expert firefighters would have more information about this issue.

  10. Highland Valley Resident
    Dec 9, 2011, 2:29 pm

    There is definitely confusion regarding what is Hammer Flats. The property in question that was previously owned by the Johnson family (The Cliffs) runs from Highland Valley road to Sandy Point Lane/Lucky Peak Lane. The area on the hillside above about 200 feet in elevation, has never been part of this equation. Whether it be Markham, Johnson, City of Boise or Fish and Game, when leaving level ground and hiking or driving up the hill, gliders were entering State owned land. The launch site is NOT part of Hammer Flats. There was a statement made at the most recent City meeting that there had been an understanding that the Cliffs would allow for a Glider Park. I suggest you familiarize yourself and others to the preliminary plan of the Cliff’s development which had been approved for construction:
    Landing on rooftops would have been a bit problematic. Dispite whatever understandings may have been in place with the Johnson family, gliders (and yes, motorcycles) continued to drive up the hillside to the take-off point and beyond.
    Claiming that the user-created roadway across the top of the ridge creates a firebreak is a bit of a stretch.
    Let’s all support the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in their efforts to receive community involvement regarding the recreational uses of this property. While I am not a glider, I understand the wishes of the glider community. There are also bikers, hikers and dog walkers that desire access. There is even a vocal contingent that wishes to ride motorcycles and ATV’s. The point is that this land was purchased with the intent of preserving wildlife habitat. Let’s work together to assure that the best possible compromise is reached between the recreation community and the wildlife that make living in this area so special.

  11. John Kangas
    Dec 10, 2011, 1:09 pm

    There is indeed confusion being generated that obscures the following facts.

    No hearings have been held by Boise in regards to balancing uses on the Hammer Flat property.

    In 2001 Boise Taxpayers voted and taxed themselves for a Trust that was to Acquire property to do 5 things.

    -Protect Water Quality
    -Preserve Wildlife Habitat
    -Provide increased recreational areas for walking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
    -Limit overdevelopment and traffic,and
    -protect natural vegitation that prevents mudflows and washouts

    Please note the key words in our as Trust such as Acquire. (Please note that Brokering property for F&G or any other third party is absent from the agreement with the taxpayers.

    In addition, please note the connecting word used in the list following the fourth item. The word AND. (Please note that the word OR is not in the Trust.)

    F&G does not own this property. The Boise Taxpayers do. The only question is will the Mayor and the City Council honor the letter and the intent of the Levy or will they violate the law and the trust of the Boise taxpayers so that Fish and Game can grow animals to be trapped and/or shot.

  12. HVR:
    I agree, you have a balanced view and you are correct on multiple points including: The Crow Gliding Area is NOT part of hammer flat – that’s what pilots have said all along. The flying area is distinct from Hammer Flat itself.

    John is correct as well: The Crow Gliding Area, foot trail from the R2R highland valley trailhead, launch and the l.z. are all included in the NW portion of the land that was purchased and referred to collectively as hammer flat, but you are correct that they are two geographically distinct areas.
    Check out this map that shows launch and l.z. as black dots overlaid on the purchased section of the Crow Gliding Area:

    Also flying was part of the planned recreation at the cliffs development: isn’t it wild they’ve still got all that info online?
    Also the hang gliding ridge is mentioned on pages 8 and 9:

    Also, the ridge is almost 500 vertical feet, here’s an introduction to the site:

    boisecynic: comparing a glider park to the kayak park is a stretch only in what is required for each to exist, but not in regard to the positive elements each can provide to an active and engaged community. You can’t build a glider park – flying sites are geologic and meteorologic gifts. The river park involves an incredible undertaking – I’m reminded each morning when I’m woken up by the pylon driving rig.

    Thanks, everyone for the conversation.

    Life is Grand!


  13. Highland Valley Resident
    Dec 12, 2011, 10:35 am

    While I applaud your awesome video I still need to reiterate – the boundaries of the land in question run from Lucky Peak Lane to Highland Valley Road. Clearly seen in your video at 3:30, the pilot is landing squarely on Hammer Flats. Thank you and others in the video for hiking up from Highland Valley trailhead, not driving up from the Hammer Flat property. Please revisit the previously posted PDF: to see the impact of the Cliff’s development on the Crow Gliding area. As I had stated earlier, I support seasonal use of this property and that includes gliders. I am merely attempting to clear some misconceptions regarding property boundaries. As you have stated, the ridge is almost 500 vertical feet – however the Flats property runs across the hillside at approximately 200 feet. The launch site is State land, always has been.
    Life is indeed Grand,

  14. HVR

    The link you provide depicts only the north 200 acres purchased by Boise that we refer to as the Crow Gliding Area. The other 500 acres to the south can be seen in Figure 1 on page 2 of the document
    This map depicts the entire 700 acres now owned by the duped Boise taxpayers. At the upper left is the area your map enlarges. At the lower right, we see the southern portion of the development boundary just above the Cliffs and Discovery Park. This much larger area, not visible in your map, is the 500 acre Plateau we refer to as Hammer Flat. If you look closely you can see they are separated by a creek ravine running from east to west towards highway 21 and a hill side just south of the creek. Hammer Flat is on an ancient river bench and is well above the area next to the existing homes seen in the upper left. The far lower right, just above Discovery Park and on the Plateau, is where the above mentioned mythical canisnimbyminorus resides.

    In your map please observe that just to the right of the note “Amphitheater Park” we see a dashed line running up and to the right. This is the existing road to the top of the Gliding Hill that we discussed . Where this dashed line meets the red north/south property line is where our windsock used to be and where the existing fence line separates the State land from the land now owned by Boise. This is the fence that we see the guys walking along next to the deer in Aaron’s film clip. Please observe that the road continues on up the ridge line past the point where Aaron’s video shows gliders launching. West of the fence and red line not yet State land.

    Now, take a close look at the elevation noted in the contours. You may have to zoom in, but you will see that where the dashed road line intersects the red property boundary on the toe of the hill is elevation 3440′. Now if you look left into the middle of the proposed development you will see the green area labeled “Windmill Park” whose elevation contour is 2950’and is just about where we see the gliders landing in Arron’s cool video. Since 3440′-2950’= 490′ feet, Aaron was very close when he mentioned the gliding hill is 500’feet high.

    So there you have it. A 500′ hill located in Boise recreation property that can never be replaced. Thanks again for following along and for the detailed topo map. BTW, if you see that happy dog bounding along and enjoying his private Idaho with Ed Bottum, throw him a wolf chewed bone. There should be plenty up there after all of those evil people are locked out from their public lands.


  15. Highland Valley Resident
    Dec 14, 2011, 12:24 pm

    Enough already. I don’t think I need to keep harping on this. The area YOU refer to as Hammer Flats is not complete. Hammer Flats extends ALL THE WAY TO HIGHLAND VALLEY ROAD. Why do you think that the first area that the Cliff’s were going to develop on Hammer Flats was the area shown in the provided PDF? Your landing area is on Hammer Flats. Your parking area was on Hammer Flats. I know full well where the road is and how it was exaserbated by vehicles driving up the hill to the launch site. I also know where the “creek ravine” (which was where the Cliff’s had promised the future entrance road on State owned property)is, where the 500 acres of flat ground is. At least you recognize that the gliders in Aaron’s video are landing on Hammer Flats. That’s been my contention all along. Realize that Hammer Flats is more than the flat ground above the Black Cliffs. It includes your landing area. Hopefully, there can be a consensus regarding future use of the property. That might even include seasonal Glider use. Whatever the outcome, it is one heck of a better alternative than 1,350 rooftops.

  16. One thing that Mr. Disingenuous is putting out there is that if recreation is allowed, BPA will pull their funding. Wildlife mitigation and recreation are not mutually exclusive for BPA funds. As long as recreation is compatible with the overall goals of the mitigation, recreation can be allowed.

    Recreation isn’t wanted by one very vocal resident, Mr. Disingenuous who wants his own private Idaho hiding behind the “it’s for the wildlife and the levy fund, the greater good”. Poppy cocky, it’s for Tony Jones.

  17. I was really confused by the comments by Tucker and Borzoi until I found this on reddit.

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