The City of Boise has bought itself some land. Seven hundred and one acres, to be exact.
The East Boise wildlife preserve of Hammer Flat where wintering mule deer, fox, deer, elk and antelope play, was bought with funds generated by the 2001 Foothills serial levy for — cha-chiing! — $4.1 mill at a special City Council meeting today.
“Of all the incredible land acquisitions made through the Foothills serial levy, this is the most significant in terms of wildlife preservation,” Mayor David Bieter said. “By putting this land into public hands, we will protect it and the wildlife it supports for generations to come.”
Here are more details from Adam Park, Boise’s Communications Director:
Hammer Flat is a vast plateau located north of Highway 21 above the Black Cliffs near Lucky Peak Reservoir. The property adjoins the 35,000-acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. The department will also manage the Hammer Flat property for wildlife habitat in a manner consistent with the Boise Wildlife Management Area plan. No trails are planned for the property.
The Hammer Flat property, a former homestead, is considered by Idaho Fish & Game and other wildlife supporters to be the most crucial wildlife protection area in the Boise Valley. The area’s relatively low elevation provides a needed winter habitat for as many as 2,000 mule deer at a time, many coming from as far away as the Stanley basin. Without Hammer Flat, the deer would be forced to seek shelter at higher elevations where deeper snow levels and lower temperatures make survival more difficult.
The two-year serial levy, approved by voters in 2001, generated $10 million for the protection of open space in the Boise Foothills. Under the leadership of former state Supreme Court Justice Charles McDevitt, the 12-member Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee advises the Mayor and Council on land acquisitions. The committee focuses on protecting critical wildlife habitat, riparian corridors, rare plants, historic sites, and potential trail connections.
Purchase of this prime wildlife habitat was negotiated with the Johnson family. The Johnsons and Skyline Development Co. had planned to build a residential development on the site. The Johnson family, in partnership with Sterling Savings Bank and other project partners, worked with the City of Boise to coordinate the acquisition. “While we are saddened that we will not have the opportunity to develop The Cliffs according to the approved plan,” said Tucker Johnson, President of Skyline, “we feel that this deal will leave a lasting legacy for our family and all valley residents.” Sterling Savings Bank agrees: “Sterling Savings Bank is pleased to be a partner in the conservation of this valuable wildlife area,” said Cara Coon, spokesperson for Sterling Savings Bank.
Negotiations on the acquisition were led by Jim Hall, director of Boise Parks & Recreation. “We are so grateful to be able to preserve this unique piece of ground,” he said. “The site’s location adjacent to the Wildlife Management Area is one of the largest and most significant for wildlife in Ada County.”
To date, $10.6 million in serial levy fund, combined with over a million dollars in cash donations, has allowed the city to conserve 10,471 acres in the Boise Foothills, with an estimated market value of $34.1 million. Following this purchase, nearly $400,000 in serial levy funds will remain for future acquisitions and easements.