Boise & Garden City

Boise to buy 160 acres of Foothills land owned by Idaho Humane Society

Doug Holloway loves the access a 160-acre property west of Bogus Basin Road provides to Foothills treasures such as Stack Rock Reserve.

Holloway, Boise’s Parks and Recreation director, and his team have had their eyes on the property, owned by the Idaho Humane Society, for months. First, buying it protects another swath of the Foothills from development and opens it up to recreation. On its own, though, it’s no more valuable than most other 160-acre lots in the Foothills.

But its eastern boundary touches a 40-acre lot the city agreed to buy in February, and that lot has frontage on Bogus Basin Road. The western third of the Humane Society parcel borders Bureau of Land Management holdings to the north, which connect to a part of the Boise National Forest. And that forest land abuts the Stack Rock property the city purchased with a big private donation in 2010.

The land in question also provides a new connection between Polecat Gulch Reserve to the southwest, across the Daniels Creek drainage, and Bogus Basin Road. The Grossman family, which owns most of the Daniels Creek land, gave the city a permanent easement to trails across its holdings last year.

So someday soon, a person could ride or hike a loop from Polecat Gulch or Hidden Springs through Daniels Creek and north into Stack Rock, then return across Forest Service land or Bogus Basin Road to the starting point.

“In your wildest dreams, I’m not sure you would have thought that would all come together,” Holloway said.

Connections are a key part of the city’s approach to Foothills acquisitions and management. About $1.5 million remains in an account set up in 2001 when Boise voters passed a two-year levy that raised $10 million for Foothills purchases.

Another $10 million conservation levy will be on Boise voters’ November ballot, but there’s no guarantee it passes. So Holloway tries to meet two goals when he negotiates land purchases. Besides protecting the land itself, he wants to build connections between pieces of ground the city and federal agencies already own.

The City Council must approve the $240,000 transaction to make it official. A vote on it is scheduled for Tuesday. Assuming the council votes yes, Parks and Recreation will work through standard due-diligence measures such as an environmental assessment and paperwork. Holloway hopes to close the deal by mid-July.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

Kirk Lewis, a Boise surgeon, donated the 160-acre lot to the Idaho Humane Society a little more than two years ago.

It wasn’t a simple donation. Years before, Lewis had donated the land to Northwest Animal Companions, a small animal rescue group that disbanded in 2012. It took a judge’s order in December of that year to free the land from the defunct group’s possession and allow Lewis to transfer it to the Humane Society.

Lewis says he loves the Foothills as much as he does animals. He originally wanted the property to be used for a no-kill animal shelter, but he said he’s “happy and excited” about the city’s proposal to buy it.

“To me, what they’re doing with it makes a lot of sense,” he said Thursday. “It’s better than selling it to a developer.”

Selling the 160 acres to the city is the perfect way to use it, Humane Society CEO Jeff Rosenthal said, because Lewis wanted to shield the land from development and help animals.

“This property will be kind of a lasting legacy to the donor and to us,” Rosenthal said. “I hope the community appreciates the opportunity to have the land up there forever, for everyone.”

The group plans to put the $240,000 into a fund set aside for a new $11.5 million facility west of Wal-Mart on Overland Road. So far, the Humane Society has raised about $8.5 million from private donors for the facility, which will include an animal shelter and adoption center, public dog park, medical center and classrooms, Rosenthal said.

The group hopes to have rest of the money in hand and start construction by next spring.

NEW PROJECTS

Parks and Recreation plans to put new trails on the Humane Society parcel and the 40-acre parcel it just bought, Holloway said. The 40-acre lot could work for a trail head because it has road frontage. The city doesn’t have a firm date for carrying out those projects, Holloway said.

He hopes to install new trail segments or upgrade existing ones in the Daniels Creek easement this summer. He expects that to cost about $50,000.

Parks and Recreation also plans to put a trail head on the east side of Bogus Basin Road a little south of the 40-acre lot this summer. The general idea is to consolidate the series of unofficial parking spots along the road into a few official spots that are safer and less damaging to the land.

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