The future of the foothills is in your hands

Posted at 11:07 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 19:23:33-04

With more than 190 miles of trails to manage, Ridge to Rivers has their work cut out for them.

Believe it or not, the Boise foothills trail system has never before had a 10-year management plan in place. That is, until now, and they want input from all trail users.

It's estimated that more than 1 million people use the Boise-based trail system each year.

Based on input that has already been gathered, the one thing trail users said they want to keep in tact is that they remain open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

Born and raised Boiseans and transplants, alike, are drawn to the foothills.

Considering the estimate that 30 percent of Boise's population uses the trails, it's not surprising that the system is a big reason why Barbara Ertter moved back home.

"It's just so cool having this huge expanse of open space and all the diversity that's out there," she said. "There's the different elevations. There's different things to see at different times of the year."

While Ertter does enjoy a relaxing hike in the hills at least once a week when the weather's nice, she also happens to be a botanist. She recently discovered a new plant.

"The Boise Sand-Verbena is now official as of a month ago and grows, basically, from Lucky Peak to New Plymouth and that's it," Ertter said.

Ertter would like to see wildflowers be included in the 10-year plan that was discussed at Thursday's open house.

Ridge to Rivers, a managing partnership between federal, state and local entities, including the city of Boise, began the year-long process of gathering input back in September.

A draft of the management plan can be found on the Ridge to Rivers website:

All input will be considered for inclusion today and in years to come as managers say they want trail users to feel safe and fully enjoy the experience.

"What this plan does is set forth a vision for our trail system moving forward. We have kind of taken for granted that everyone loves trails and everyone wants connectivity," said Sara Arkle, foothills and open space senior manager for the city of Boise. "This gave us the opportunity to begin that dialogue with the community."

The comment period ends on Sunday, May 8.

Input can be submitted to the Boise Parks & Recreation department online:

Look for plan updates on the Boise Trail Conditions Facebook page.