Home on the Range: Boise Land Purchase Conserves 701 Acres of Wildlife Habitat

Article excerpt

Mayor David Bieter and the City Council announced the purchase of Hammer Flat, a 701-acre wintering range for mule deer, elk and antelope in east Boise, Idaho, using funds generated by the 2001 Foothills Serial Levy. The mayor and council approved the $4.1 million expenditure at a special council meeting in March at City Hall.

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"Of all the incredible land acquisitions made through the Foothills Serial Levy, this is the most significant in terms of wildlife preservation," Bieter said. "By putting this land into public hands, we will protect it and the wildlife it supports for generations to come."

Hammer Flat is a vast plateau located north of Highway 21 above the Black Cliffs near Lucky Peak Reservoir. The property adjoins the 35,000-acre Boise River Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. The department will also manage the Hammer Flat property for wildlife habitat in a manner consistent with the Boise Wildlife Management Area plan. No trails are planned for the property.

The Hammer Flat property, a former homestead, is considered by Idaho Fish & Game and other wildlife supporters to be the most crucial wildlife protection area in the Boise Valley. The area's relatively low elevation provides a needed winter habitat for as many as 2,000 mule deer at a time, many coming from as far away as the Stanley basin. Without Hammer Flat, the deer would be forced to seek shelter at higher elevations where deeper snow levels and lower temperatures make survival more difficult.

The two-year serial levy, approved by voters in 2001, generated $10 million for the protection of open space in the Boise Foothills. Under the leadership of former state Supreme Court Justice Charles McDevitt, the 12-member Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee advises the mayor and council on land acquisitions. …