When David Gordon took over as Ridge to Rivers program manager 12 years ago, the city of Boise had 95 miles of trails to manage. Now, those miles have doubled, with around 400,000 visitors per year.
The city has focused largely on acquiring foothills land through the 2001 foothills levy and now the new Clean Water and Open Space levy—both for $10 million.
What that means for Gordon and his crew is 200 miles of trail that need infill, tread, established slopes, drain dip and erosion repairs, invasive weed mitigation and a “laundry list” of other trail maintenance.
A handful of years ago, a solution to this funding problem was in the works when a small group of citizens came together and started talking about the creation of a friends group for the foothills.
Friends groups are 501(c)3 nonprofits that become helpful tools to raise money for large projects, as well as broaden awareness and strengthen community assets. For example, the Friends of the Park helps raise millions of dollars for the Boise River Park, allowing the first phase to be constructed in 2012, as well as the next phases, which are slated for construction in 2017.
While the city can’t ask for donations to fund such projects, a friends group can. Zoo Boise has its own Friends group, as well as the Boise Public Library. Gordon and other city employees longed to see a friends group of their own.
However, the creation of a friends group for the foothills quickly turned rocky.
Three years ago, a friends group was created and called Boise Trail Works.
That is, until Saturday, March 5.
The Egyptian Theatre nearly sold out for the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley’s inaugural Les Bois Film Festival, which showcased 15 short nature films from all over the world and a few local gems.
It was after one such film that Brooke Green, a board member of LTTV, took to the stage and made an important announcement.
More information on the new foothills friends group is at lttv.org/friends-of-the-foothills.
Tim Breuer, the executive director of LTTV, has had this in mind for a long time. He was the original Ridge to Rivers program manager, so he understands firsthand the challenges Gordon and his crew are facing.
He said the new sub-group of the Land Trust will work closely with the city’s Foothills and Open Space senior manager, Sara Arkle, as well as Gordon, and help Ridge to Rivers grow a support staff.