Books

Did the Greenbelt save Boise?

“Pathway of Dreams: Building the Boise Greenbelt” by David Proctor; Ridenbaugh Press ($16.95)

There is an argument to be made that the creation of the Boise River Greenbelt — and the people behind it — saved the city of Boise. With unprecedented access to interviews with the Greenbelt pioneers and city documents, David Proctor tells the little-known story of how that happened in the new book “Pathway of Dreams: Building the Boise Greenbelt.”

In the 1960s, Boise was not a healthy city, physically or psychologically. Residents had turned their backs on Downtown to the extent that native son novelist and journalist L.J. Davis famously wrote in Harpers Magazine: “If things go as they are, Boise stands an excellent chance of becoming the first American city to have deliberately eradicated itself.”

Boiseans had turned their backs on their river and created what was little more than a running garbage dump. The zoo, slaughterhouses, factories and individual homes used the river as a convenient disposal service. Rusting car bodies and spikes of rebar were scattered along its length. It was an inconvenient ribbon of geology the city had to build bridges over.

Boise needed a miracle and got one: The Boise River Greenbelt. The Boise River Greenbelt was a quintessentially American undertaking: a willingness to venture into the unknown because it was the right thing to do, even though it offered the pioneers no financial gain, and there was no guarantee their efforts would amount to anything. They looked at a dirty, ignored river and saw what it could be. This was not a government project. The people led. Volunteers did the heavy lifting. The government and commercial interests followed.

Boise now has 170 acres and 27 miles of linear park and 30 miles of bike paths that pass through 12 developed and three undeveloped parks. The 15 parks total 649 acres of public land. Unincorporated Ada County, Garden City and the city of Eagle have followed Boise’s example and built their own Greenbelt paths.

The integrity of the riparian zones and vegetation has been restored. Fun runs and all manner of events take place on the Greenbelt and its adjoining parks. The trail itself has become a nearly natural element of the river. The financial benefits to the city are almost beyond counting.

“The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby” by Marie Bigelow (Boise); Cedar Fort Inc. ($12.99)

“The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby” is the first of its kind. The book combines scientific evidence with Latter-day Saint religious beliefs in a way that gives women a more comprehensive and empowering look at birth options than ever before. Heralded as the first of its kind by those in the childbirth industry as well as the publishing industry, The Sacred Gift of Childbirth teaches readers about each type of childbirth and describes how the physical and physiological aspects of labor and delivery were divinely designed. “The Sacred Gift of Childbirth” will fill a gap in childbirth literature for LDS families.

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