Outdoors

Ready for a challenge? Boise State hopes to build an outdoor obstacle course

Boise State University hopes to add an outdoor challenge course to its campus, according to a request submitted to the city of Boise’s Planning and Development Services.

If the school’s request is approved, the course would be built at the Boas Tennis and Soccer Complex at 1507 S. Oakland Ave. It would be located south of the indoor tennis courts.

On Sept. 24, the university’s Capital Planning and Space Management office asked the city to amend its conditional use permit for the sports complex. The Boise City Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Nov. 18.

The challenge course would include “high- and low-rope elements,” as well as nets and zip lines, according to the request. Like other similar obstacle courses, it’s meant as a site for group activities.

“A challenge course contains various initiatives that aim to enhance team-building, self-confidence and leadership development through adventure-based experiences,” the request says.

Drew Alexander, capital asset and development manager for Boise State, said the course has been a goal for the campus recreation center for the last two or three years.

According to the document, the low-ropes course would include “logs or wooden platforms placed on the ground, or more technical features that involve cables or ropes.” There will be seven low-ropes “initiatives.”

The high-ropes elements will be on an aerial structure.

“The aerial course consists of platforms raised above the ground, with various challenges that participants navigate as a team,” the document says. “Participants access the platform by climbing up nets, and exiting the course by the nets or zip line. Each person is equipped with safety gear, including but not limited to harness and helmet.”

The course would be staffed by employees from Boise State’s Campus Recreation department.

University officials said there’s an existing problem with homeless encampments along Ridenbaugh Canal, which borders the 10.5-acre sports complex to the southwest. They believe construction of the challenge course would make the area “far less appealing for vagrancy and other illegal activity.”

Currently, the proposed site for the challenge course is an undeveloped part of the complex that has been open to the public. In its request, BSU said it would keep the area unfenced and accessible unless the course is vandalized.

If the proposal is approved, the challenge course could be completed as early as next year.

“Our hope is that we can begin at least some phase of construction this coming spring or summer,” Alexander said.

Officials estimate the course will cost between $250,000 and $300,000.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.
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