Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's time to step up and support the Boise Water, Open Space and Recreation Levy

Bucktail Trail is one of the additions made possible by the foothills open space levy. 
Where else can you get instant access to the hills like you can in Boise?
Now we have a chance to enhance our access even more! 
Steve hiking the Five Mile Creek trail in 1997 with
son Quinn, 4 months old, in the backpack. Now Five Mile is
official city property, leading to one of my favorites,
Watchman Trail ... 
Hiking, biking or running to Stack Rock is another opportunity made
possible by the levy and generous donor Fred Alleman.  
Hi all,

Everyone once in a while, we do something right. That's what happened in May 2001 when residents of Boise passed the first $10 million foothills open space levy by a 60% margin. Foothills recreationists banded together with the Idaho Conservation League, Boise Parks & Recreation former Chairman Chuck McDevitt and Republican Mayor Brent Coles to wage an awesome city-wide grass-roots campaign that put us across the finish line in a winning position.

I was running the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SWIMBA) at the time along with Tom Baskin. We saw the foothills levy as the single most significant thing our group could work on to increase trail access, acquire new open space reserves, and make connections between trails at the foot of the valley with BLM and Forest Service lands above.

Wendy and Dave Kordiyak enjoying the new trails in Polecat Reserve.
Polecat Reserve and the trailheads on Cartwright Road and N. Collister
were made possible by the foothills levy. 
I still remember the night when I went to a meeting about the levy with Mayor Coles, and he told about 20 of us with great vigor that he wanted to partner with recreation and conservation forces to pass the levy. He wasn't sure he could get the Boise Chamber of Commerce to go along with us, but he was going to go for it anyway. We applauded mightly and agreed with him. Let's go for it!

Shortly afterwards, SWIMBA organized a free beer and pizza party at Noodles downtown and packed the house. Baskin and I made big speeches, imploring the rank and file of the hiking, biking and running community to step up and support the levy. If there was ever a time to get involved, the time was now!

Suddenly we had several hundred volunteers who plugged in to work on the campaign in many different capacities, and ultimately, we got the voters to the polls and passed the levy. It was one of the most gratifying things I've ever been a part of. I still feel being part of the campaign team was the single most important thing I've done in my life.

The $10 million levy fund is almost depleted after the City of Boise purchased more than 10,800 acres of land and easements worth more than $37.7 million in the last 14 years. So Mayor Bieter and the City Council have put a new $10 million levy on the ballot for Nov. 3 -- that's less than two months away! It's called the Boise Water, Open Space and Recreation Levy.

Once again, it's time for recreationists and conservation folks to band together to pass the new levy. Wendy and I are hosting a house party next Wednesday, Sept. 9 5:30-8 p.m. to raise funds, inform folks about the campaign, and sign up people to help. There will be free beer, wine, food and music courtesy of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Conservation Voters for Idaho, the Trust for Public Lands and Steve and Wendy.
Areas shown in dark green were purchased
with funds from the open space levy.
(click to enlarge) 
This is an open invitation event to hikers, dog-walkers, bikers, trail-runners, horseback riders -- recreationists of all kinds -- to party with your friends, drink some cheer, shake a leg, learn about the campaign, contribute as you feel appropriate, and plug-in if you wish.

The cool thing about the open space levy is that it's a two-year measure ... it raises property taxes by $2.39 a month for two years to raise the $10 million, and then it sunsets. A very small price to pay for such a huge benefit. Here's a presentation from the city with more details.

When I go hiking or biking on the Bucktail Trail in Military Reserve, tying the park's trails to Shane's Loop, I remember how that was one of the first purchases made after the $10 million levy passed. Back in 2000, I took the TV news people to the fenceline at the north edge of Military Reserve Park and talked about the potential to connect to Shane's. The whole Polecat Reserve was another key purchase. The Five-Mile Creek reserve and Watchman Trail were a HUGE addition. Stack Rock, Eastside, Hillside to the Hollow, the new trails in Daniels Creek and Dry Creek. The list goes on ...

Many of us use the foothills trails several times a week. Think about how cool it would be to add even more open space reserves and trails in the foothills or the Boise River corridor to enhance the recreation experience for us, our children and our grandchildren.

This is a big opportunity for everyone in Boise to step up to improve our community's quality of life for future generations. We have to get people to the polls on Nov. 3. Let's seize the day and make it happen!

If you can't make our party, here's the campaign web site and how to donate.
-- SS

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