Boise & Garden City

Ada County commissioners delay decision on Table Rock airstrip

Take a trip into the Owyhees on Dean Hilde's airplane

See Silver City, the desert south of Boise and the Snake River from a low-altitude flight into the mountains.
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See Silver City, the desert south of Boise and the Snake River from a low-altitude flight into the mountains.

After three hours of testimony Wednesday, all three Ada County commissioners agreed they wanted more time to consider evidence and arguments for and against a proposed airstrip in Boise’s eastern Foothills.

The board is scheduled to make a decision on the matter Aug. 10.

Dean Hilde, who lives in the Wildhorse Ranch subdivision, recently applied for a permit to use a ridge north of Table Rock as a primitive airstrip where he would take off and land his airplane, a 1968 Piper Super Cub. Hilde planned to buy the 149-acre lot where the ridge is located as long as he secured approval of the airstrip.

The property is inside the city of Boise's area of impact, so the city was given a chance to make a recommendation on Hilde's application. The city strongly opposed the airstrip.

Hilde's opponents predicted that allowing the airstrip would disturb wildlife and increase fire risk in the Foothills. Some disputed Hilde's claim that taking off and landing on the ridge west of his planned home would add no more fire risk than driving vehicles and other Foothills uses, such as cell phone towers and at least one other permitted airstrip.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan worried that, besides taking off and landing, fueling the airplane would increase the chance of starting wildfires. Airstrip or no airstrip, Doan pledged that his department wouldn't respond to fires or any other emergency on the 149 acres Hilde planned to buy.

Hilde and some of his supporters, including several pilots, said approving the airstrip would be unlikely to disturb wildlife, partly because Hilde would use it only rarely during the winter and early spring months when big game animals such as elk and mule deer that winter in the Foothills are most vulnerable.

That may be true, Hilde's opponents said, but people who come to own the property after him might not be as conscientious.

Boise City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said the city has long had its eye on preserving this piece of property. It had a chance to buy the land in 2014, she said. But in that moment, the land wasn't a high priority, partly because the city had less than $2 million left from a 2001 levy that raised $10 million for preservation of the Foothills. Last year, Boise voters passed another $10 million levy with a similar purpose to the 2001 version.