Deer and elk winter ranges have shrunk along the Boise Front. What remains is critical to maintaining one of Idaho’s largest deer herds. The land they depend is a mix of federal, state, county, city and some private lands.
Boise River WMA
The Boise River WMA came into existence when conservationists and sportsmen recognized deer were losing vital winter range. If something wasn’t done, fewer and fewer deer would survive Idaho’s winters on the Boise Front.
Idaho Fish and Game acquired the first 2200 acres of the WMA in 1943, preserving a small piece of winter habitat. Since then the WMA has increased in size to approximately 19,000 acres as land has been purchased or donated by various entities. The WMA property along with land belonging to federal, city and private partners brings the total acres managed for wildlife by Idaho Fish and Game to nearly 36,000.
The Boise River WMA is situated east of Boise in the foothills of the Boise Mountains and along Lucky Peak and Arrowrock Reservoirs in Ada, Boise and Elmore counties. The WMA also abuts large tracts of adjacent public lands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and Amy Corps of Engineers.
While it provides critical winter habitat for thousands of mule deer and hundreds of elk, the WMA is also home to hundreds of other mammal and bird species. The several hundred kinds of plants, which cover the hillsides, are managed to provide food and shelter for wildlife and help protect the watershed from soil erosion.
The mission of the Boise River WMA is “to provide winter range for big game and year-round habitat for upland game birds, to optimize production of game and non-game wildlife, and to provide public hunting and other wildlife-based recreational activities that are compatible with maintaining high-quality habitat and hunting opportunity.”
The Boise River WMA is made up of four distinct parcels.
• The Boise Front Segment begins near the Boise City limits and extends about ten miles east.
• The Spring Shores segment is along Lucky Peak Lake about15 miles east of Boise.
• The Charcoal Creek segment is located south of Lucky Peak Lake.
• South Fork/McDonald segment consists of scattered parcels on Grape Mountain and along the South Fork Arm of Arrowrock Reservoir.
Barber Pool Conservation Area (BPCA)
In 1978, Boise Cascade donated 411 acres to the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Land to establish the Barber Pool Conservation Area. The 411 acres is located within six miles of downtown Boise and contains significant wildlife and habitat values, such as deer and elk winter habitat within the Boise River Valley. BPCA has since expanded to over 712 acres through additional land donations, purchases and easements via the State of Idaho, Ada County, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the federal government and private landowners.
City of Boise – Open Space Management Plan for the Boise Foothills
The Ada Planning Association estimates the population of Ada County will grow from 275,000 to 363,000 by 2015. Public open space values will be affected by this expected population growth.
To ensure that these open spaces are conserved for future generations, multiple agencies saw the need to develop an open space management plan to help cooperatively manage public land values in the Foothills.
This plan consolidates each agency’s planning documents into a single, unified vision for Foothills public lands. The plan supports an interconnected system of natural areas, recreation trails and wildlife corridors that protect the integrity of public land values.
Conservation efforts began when a two-year property tax serial levy was passed by 59% of Boise voters on May 22, 2001. The approval raised $10 million for conservation efforts in the Boise Foothills. Beginning in November 2001, the City included the two-year levy on property taxes for commercial, residential and industrial property.
For more details about the Open Space Management Plan and the serial levy, visit the City of Boise’s web site: http://www.cityofboise.org/Departments/Parks/Foothills/index.aspx
Federal lands along Hwy 21 include lands managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S Army Corp of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.