by Andrew Crisp
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will become the new owner of 704 acres of Boise Foothills on Thursday, June 28.
The deal puts the controversial parcel called Hammer Flat in the hands of Fish and Game, and transfers $4.2 million to Boise coffers, courtesy of the Bonneville Power Administration via wildlife mitigation funds, meant to offset environmental damage. Fish and Game Wildlife Program Coordinator Gregg Servheen compared the transaction to buying a house.
“Just like any other house deal, it goes into escrow,” said Servheen. “So Bonneville transfers it into escrow and then it’s transferred to the city.”
Mike Keckler with Fish and Game said something similar, having been through three house deals himself.
“I think it’s like any other closing,” said Keckler, “they just get together and sign the documents and that’s it. The documents will be signed by the [Fish and Game] director, the mayor and BPA’s representative. The closing price is $4,230,000 for 704 acres.”
For that, Fish and Game gets a parcel of unblemished Foothills land formerly slated for a new subdivision. The money is transferred back to the city’s Foothills Preservation Fund, less the closing costs collected by Title One for its services.
“The seller and buyer—so that’s the city and BPA—will split the cost,” said Keckler.
For now, the land will be managed under the rules governing the Boise River, which is adjacent to the parcel. But Fish and Game will develop a plan for how the land will be used in the future.
“Once we take possession, our guys will develop a management plan over the fall and make it public for comment, probably sometime around the end of the year, and then proceed from there,” he said.
Though the city and state have called the sale a win-win, some recreationists are concerned they will lose access to the parcel and its role as a major paragliding destination.
Keckler also said a Monday, July 9, meeting would bring media and representatives from Fish and Game, the city and Bonneville Power Administration to tour the location.