In 2001, I joined more than 500 Boiseans in working to pass the first Foothills open space levy. I’ve heard countless times over the years what a difference that groundbreaking vote made to our city and how important our open space reserves are to our families, our community and even our identity as Boiseans. In nearly every article or top 10 list Boise appears in, you’ll see our Foothills and open space featured as one of our pre-eminent community assets.
In November 2001, Boise voters approved $10 million for conservation and land protection in Boise’s iconic foothills. Through acquisition, donation, easement, or land exchange the city has leveraged the voters’ initial investment even more than we imagined, protecting more than 10,750 acres valued at around $37 million. That’s an incredible return on investment, and has created a lasting legacy by protecting some of Boise’s most treasured places, such as Daniels Creek, Stack Rock, Hillside to Hollow and Polecat Gulch.
This November, we’ll have the opportunity to continue that work and protect even more open space and clean water for our community by supporting a similar measure. This two-year temporary override levy provides us an opportunity to build on what remains of the initial fund and adds another $10 million to protect and enhance even more open space and lands along our river to create a sustainable future for our great city. Passing this measure will allow us to set aside more open space throughout the city, to protect critical wildlife and plant habitat, to promote clean water through the protection of riparian corridors and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities for our residents. The time is right, because the funds from our first levy are almost gone and this new levy will take our first investment even further.
The Foothills and our river are quintessential Boise. As Boiseans, we see them every day; being reminded just how good we have it here. They’re where I go to exercise, to reflect on my life, to play. They’re the place my husband and I take our kids for family time, where we’ve found baby owls with them, taught them to mountain bike, and spent countless hours walking and exploring. Now they’re the place our children go on their own — to mountain bike, to walk with friends, to look for owls or treasures — to explore and gain their independence.
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I treasure my time in our Foothills and by the river and believe strongly we must continue our commitment to open space as we work to preserve the long-term health and vitality of our community. Passing this measure will allow us to do just that by providing the resources to obtain more open space for recreation, improve Boise River habitat and water quality, increase access to the Boise River, increase connectivity with existing trails, enhance riparian areas and promote natural stream corridors.
We live in a great city with unrivaled access to unique open space. This November, we have the opportunity to make it even better, continuing our community’s legacy of protecting open space and clean water for our children and theirs. Because I love Boise, and because I love our open space and clean river and want to ensure a great quality of life for future Boiseans, my children and grandchildren to forever enjoy, I wholeheartedly support the Boise Clean Water and Open Space campaign. I hope you will join me in voting YES on Nov. 3.
Lauren McLean is a Boise City Councilwoman.