After a three-year hiatus, hang gliders can resume a 35-year tradition of launching from a plateau overlooking the Boise River near Lucky Peak Reservoir.
The Idaho Fish & Game Department this week issued a special-use permit allowing gliders to use the gliding area atop Hammer Flat from May 1 to Nov. 15.
"Once again, beautiful gliders will grace the Boise skyline," said John Kangas, a Boise hang glider who lobbied the city and Fish & Game to open "the Crow" to gliding.
The city of Boise purchased the 700-acre Hammer Flat - once slated to become a 1,350-home development - in a short sale for $4.1 million in March 2010. It closed the property to the public - including hang gliders who had used the spot for decades - while Fish & Game conducted a baseline study and put together funding to purchase the property from Boise for wildlife habitat.
Hammer Flat is adjacent to Fish & Game's 36,000-acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area, which provides critical winter range to deer and elk.
Last summer, Fish & Game was able to buy Hammer Flat for $4.23 million, using Bonneville Power Administration wildlife-mitigation funds.
Fish & Game opened the property to the public, but kept it closed to hang gliding because aircraft cannot be launched or retrieved within Fish & Game wildlife management areas without a special permit.
Fish & Game and members of the local hang-gliding association then started working on a solution.
The wildlife area is closed to vehicles Nov. 15 to May 1 - critical winter-migration time for Idaho's big game. Opening it to hang gliding during the summer months when the ungulates move to higher elevations was a better fit.
"This time frame coincides with general hiking access allowed into the wildlife management area, and encompasses the best gliding weather Boise has to offer," Kangas said.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell