How residents can help conservation of Idaho land

For many residents in the Treasure Valley, increased development in once open fields and lands has become more common in recent years.
Posted at 3:31 PM, Jan 03, 2023

For many residents in the Treasure Valley, increased development in once open fields and lands has become more common in recent years.

It’s an issue those within our communities have reached out to Idaho News 6 about, wondering as a property owner, what can they do to help protect the undeveloped land around them?

We went to Hollie Conde, the Senior Legislative and Lands Coordinator for Conservation Voters for Idaho for answers to those concerns.

CVI is a bipartisan organization that helps cultivate the political environment to protect the natural environment through advocacy, conservation, and electoral work in order to better serve and protect Idaho’s land, water and wildlife.

“One of the interesting things about land and open space is all of us have a connection to it in some way,” said Conde. “Whether it’s the family farm or ranch or we go out and recreate, fish hunt or run trails, almost all of us have some kind of connection to it.”

According to Conde, the steps to begin conservation of the land near you depends on what your end goal is and if you live in city limits or a more rural community.

Residents have several options, such as finding out who owns the land and starting a conversation with them to gauge what they have in mind for the land’s future. From there, landowners can consider taking their own steps toward preservation.

“There are legal tools a private owner can do to prevent development on their property. They can place conservation easements, recreation easements, these things can be permanent, or they can be temporary and it’s not necessarily buying the whole chunk of land, just protecting the conservation value of that land.”

Residents within city boundaries can also begin by engaging with local zoning and planning departments, and comment on city and county comprehensive plans, which are guidelines that steer and guide growth within communities.

Once a new development is proposed, the developer is required to go through a bunch of different steps for planning, and neighbors within a certain radius are sent a notice with information on an opportunity to meet with a developer and provide public comment.

That information goes to a planning and zooming commission first, and if there’s problems with it or things neighbors don’t like, the developer will be required to make changes.

Right now, the City of Boise is in the process of updating their zoning code and are scheduled to hold their next meeting on January 26 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at Boise City Hall, 150 N Capitol Blvd.

City of Boise

“You can make a difference if you show up to these things or provide written comment too,” conde said, “because planning and zoning staff are usually really good about listening to those things.”

Above all, being aware of what’s happening around you is key. Just keep in mind that you do have options and the timeframe to protect land varies based on type of land, type of conservation efforts needed, from a few months to years.

Conde says our lands are the heart of our state and “it’s one of the reasons Idaho is growing so much, because we have such amazing open space. We have great views and great access to recreation. It’s a whole lifestyle that people are in love with out here.”