Collaborative strategy promotes cleaner, healthier Boise River

IRU Boise River Campaign Coordinator Liz Paul gives reporters a glimpse of the newly-unveiled Boise River Enhancement Plan during a press conference Friday, Nov. 6.

A new community-generated plan recommends collaborative action to enhance fish and wildlife habitat and reduce pollution and flood risk on the Boise River. The Boise River Enhancement Plan recommends short and long term actions that land owners, community planners, water users, and other public and private stakeholders can take to enhance the Boise River from Lucky Peak Dam to the Snake River.

“This Plan is a call for action,” said Boise River Enhancement Network member and report co-author Tamsen Binggeli. “The Boise River continues to face many stressors that reduce the health and function of the river. People from across the Treasure Valley came together to make this plan, and now it’s time to put enhancement concepts into action.”

The Boise River Enhancement Plan was prepared by the Boise River Enhancement Network with funding provided by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Cooperative Watershed Management program. Network members gathered Friday, Nov. 6, by the Boise River to officially give the plan to Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. 

"The plan explains in easy-to-understand text and outstanding graphics the water usage, river health and competing interests for the river,” said Jerold Gregg, area manager of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Snake River Area Office.

The document also emphasizes the effectiveness of private-public partnerships and collaboration of multiple agencies and interest groups. 

“Collaboration allows groups to pool resources and work together on high priority projects that one or few entities couldn’t undertake on their own,” Binggeli said. “The plan could provide useful guidance for allocating funds from the newly passed Clean Water Levy, for example, to enhance the recreation experience, as well as the habitat and ecology, of the Boise River.”

The Boise River Enhancement Plan is available at boiseriverenhancement.net. It includes many informative graphics, illustrative photos and text suitable for a wide audience. 

The Boise River Enhancement Network (BREN) was founded in 2012. BREN represents people who live, work and play in the Boise River watershed and are dedicated to the ecological enhancement of the river. BREN hosts educational programs, field trips, and online networking and supports research, enhancement projects and relationship building. BREN membership is free and open to the public.

IRU Boise River Campaign Coordinator Liz Paul has been deeply involved with the effort and delivered the following statement at the Friday press conference:

“The Boise River was once an open sewer, industrial waste site and garbage dump. Generations of valley residents have invested lots of time and lots of money into cleaning up the Boise River. These private and public efforts have had a remarkable impact. Now we flock to the river, we brag about the river and we recognize the river as an important economic driver.

“But the Boise River is still not living up to its potential. Sections of the river are seriously polluted, critical wetlands and floodplain continue to be lost to development, hunting and fishing opportunities are limited and recreation access and safety need to be improved. 

“Our new report clearly explains the current health of the river – it’s a superb educational tool – and well-proven approaches are recommended to guide private and public investment in the Boise River.  The plan doesn’t offer site specific recommendations; those decisions need to be made by land owners and management agencies. The plan is meant to educate, guide, and help everyone pull in the same direction.

“We’re pleased to present the Boise River Enhancement Plan to Boise City Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway today. Boise Parks and Recreation is a leader in Boise River enhancement with many incredible projects to their name. With the overwhelming approval of the clean water levy on Tuesday, the city will invest additional funds in Boise River enhancement. We encourage Doug and other city leaders to use the Boise River Enhancement Plan to guide investment, to attract additional funding and to collaborate with downstream communities.”