In case you missed it, the Statesman:
November 30, 2009
Sour economy may be a boon to Foothills preservation
With many landowners eager to sell, much of the $5 million left in a fund to buy property could go to land deals.
Bethann Stewart: 377-6393
Out of the dark cloud of recession a little ray of sunlight is shining on the Foothills.
The poor economy has stalled most big development plans for the Foothills, said Suki Molina, vice-chair of the Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee, which was created to ensure Foothills levy funds are well-spent.
"We have more willing landowners right now, willing to sell their land," she said.
Voters approved the Foothills levy - a two-year, $10 million property tax levy - in 2001.
Levy money has purchased more than 8,000 acres since 2002. But so far this year, it has bought just 10 acres, costing $10,000.
The two 5-acre parcels purchased from the Oberbillig family were then exchanged for 10 acres owned by the Johnston family. Those 10 acres are contiguous to a 110-acre parcel purchased by the BLM from the estate of J.J. Oberbillig in 2008.
"There are a number of things on the burner," said Foothills Open Space Manager Julia Kertz Grant. "Some of these projects could spend that money down considerably if they come to fruition."
Grant declined to speak on the record about ongoing negotiations with landowners.
"Hopefully, we'll have some exciting news in the next few months," she said.
Though the committee is set to expire Monday, the Boise City Council will decide Tuesday whether to extend its existence for six months. Mayor David Bieter said he will recommend an extension to determine what role the group can play in the long-term stewardship of the land it helped purchase.
Some of the levy-purchased land became Pole Cat Reserve, and the rest has expanded the boundaries of Table Rock, Hulls Gulch and Military reserves.
No decision has been made on how much money to keep in the fund in case of future bargains, Grant said.
"Everyone hesitates to spend it down," she said.
There is still some coin in the piggy bank. Whu da ya know?
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