Outdoors Blog

Snowstorms place heavy burden on Parks and Rec to keep Greenbelt clear

The pre-Christmas snow and post-Christmas cold have put extra stress on the city of Boise as it tries to keep the Greenbelt clear for the walkers, runners and cyclists who use it year-round.

Parks and Rec sends crews of 20 to 39 employees out to remove snow from city properties whenever at least 1 inch falls. That call goes out three times per winter in a typical year. This winter, snow removal days exceeded that number in one week — and more snow is on the way.

The workload has left some portions of the Greenbelt packed with snow while others are mostly clear.

On a walk in East Boise on Thursday, I encountered packed snow along Eckert Road and a clear path from Eckert to the Y just east of Marianne Williams Park. At the Y, the fork going into the park was packed with snow while the path that bypassed the park was clear (see photo). Parks and Rec says in the case of Eckert, that stretch was missed on the first snow-removal day and foot traffic compacted the snow.

“While we strive to achieve a continuous, snow- and ice-free Greenbelt, the major accumulation and freezing temperatures we are experiencing make it very difficult to stay on top of the process,” said Doug Holloway, the director of Parks and Rec.

Snow-removal shifts begin at 4 a.m. and last as long as 10 hours. Priority areas like the Greenbelt, Zoo Boise, community centers, Idaho IceWorld and parks with year-round restrooms get hit first.

“The Greenbelt, due to its high-volume use regardless of the time of year, is the highest priority,” Holloway said.

The goal is to maintain a clear path on all 26 miles of Greenbelt owned by the city (Boise is responsible for the areas in red on this map). The city also pre-treats driveway entrances, Greenbelt tunnels and bridge decks before forecasted ice events.

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On Thursday, Robert Ehlert wrote about the need for safe walking options this winter.