Friday, June 11, 2010

Crow Update, June 6

Hello, this is John Kangas with the Crow Gliding Area Update for June 6th, 2010. This Update is about our meeting with the City of Boise this last week.
On Friday June 4th, a cordial and productive meeting was held at Boise City Hall. Representing the Idaho Hang Gliding Association was myself and Lisa Tate. As many folks know, Lisa is an active fund raiser for Idaho Hang Gliding who also serves as the President of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Representing the City was Jade Riley-Chief of Staff for Mayor Bieter, and Maryanne Jordan-President of the Boise City Council. Also in attendance was Jim Hall-Director of Boise Parks and Recreation.
The meeting began with City Council President Jordon asking us about the historic use of the site, along with questions about our frequency of activity, our season of use, and the number of folks that would use the area on any given day. We brought a number of aerial photographs that facilitated the discussion and enabled the parties to engage in a fluid discussion about the Crow Gliding Area. The discussion remained very positive.
This is one of the photos we shared at the meeting with areas of interest added for this update. One of the key points we stressed at the meeting was the Gliding Area's location near the existing homes and people. Our position has always been that our activity has very low impact. Here at the Crow, our silent activity is also an ideal buffer between the people and cars in the neighborhood, and the prime deer habitat located further away on Hammer Flats. A lot of folks who haven't been out to the Crow Gliding Area, are under the misconception that we are gliding deep into the flats, but this is not the case as we can see from this photo.
During the meeting we were asked about our historic use of the ridge road to access launch. We shared that in over 35 years of gliding at the Crow, some of the previous owners allowed our use of the ridge road while others have asked us to not use it. Most folks that have flown the Crow lately have carried their gliders up the hill. Not too much of a problem for the lighter gliders with able bodied flyers, or if we have a friend to help carry the glider, but it is definitely a restriction for those folks with heavier gliders or those folks with disabilities or those folks getting along in age. Not withstanding our future use of the road, we expressed our sense that the ridge road should always remain in place as a fire break and for fire fighting access in case of a dangerous brush fire.
Speaking of brush, a question about rehabilitation of the native plants and its effects on our gliding was asked. We stated that of the two general types of gliders that we fly, the lighter Paragliders with their fine lines would be most effected by brush and that the preferred surface conditions were those having a natural grass surface with no rocks. This is one of the features that makes the Crow such a lovely hill. We shared our feelings that given the hot and dry dessert and the hot SW facing aspect of the Crow, it would be difficult to establish native brush on the hill without irrigation. An area void of brush next to the homes also makes a great deal of sense in regards to fire safety. Hopefully, all of this will be considered when the City Planners roll up their sleeves and really look at this property, its location, and establish long term priorities and viability.
During the meeting we once again emphasized our desire to partner with the City at the Crow Gliding Area. For example, we discussed the old house that is visible next to the Highland Valley Road. We can see it in the picture next to the trees just above the road. More than likely this house will need to be razed and we volunteered our organization in the cleanup. We would also encourage the City Park Planners to take a close look at this area as a possible parking and waiting area under the cover of those old trees. Shade is a wonderful thing in the desert when waiting for friends or just enjoying a lovely summer evening listening to the wind and the birds while watching gliders above the Crow.
Gliders getting ready above Missoula, Montana at Mt Sentinel. They fly on University property yet access the top of the ridge using a Forest Service road.
Before the meeting ended we were tasked with providing the City with some of our other use agreements in the state and the region. Currently we are researching our files and also corresponding with other gliding groups to provide these items to the city. For example, the Missoula flyers have a working agreement with the U.S. Forrest Service that allows them to transport their gliders up a Forrest Service maintenance road that is otherwise closed to vehicular traffic. The agreement requires a permit that must be carried by the flyers using the road and it seems very reasonable. We are currently gathering the information requested and we will be forwarding it on to the City Council President over the next few days.
We are very hopeful that our dialog with the City will continue, and that much like the communities of Missoula and Salt Lake, we can all be proud of our very own gliding hill in Boise. Stay tuned for further developments.
Thanks to everyone for all of your letters and calls of support,
Blaine, Lisa, Patrick, Aaron, and John

Friday, June 4, 2010

Crow Update

Hello, this is John Kangas with a Crow Gliding Area update for June 2nd, 2010. Thus update is about public records we have attained, current news about the Crow Gliding Area, and a meeting scheduled later this week with the City.

As mentioned in our last update, we are exercising our rights to gain access to public records. Regretfully, we are not liking what we are seeing. We never completely understood why our Park and Recreation folks never moved forward after our initial intro meeting. This last week we received material that shows that Boise was planning on sale of the property to Fish and Game long before Boise even owned it. In other words, they were just going to buy and sale the property on behalf of Fish and Game. The City just never shared that detail with us. This is probably why Park and Recreation left us in limbo.

Contained in the information we attained, is a draft memorandum of understanding that shows that the City and Fish and Game were planning a interim management plan that would not allow most outdoor recreational activities on the property. Fish and Game only estimated $2500 dollars a year to manage the property. It looks like that in order to meet that low estimate, anything other than walking was going to be prohibited. This would include Bicycling and Horses. Off leash dogs were also going to be prohibited on the property. In the documents, Park and Recreation Director Jim Hall and Chairman of the Open Space Advisory Committee Chairman Chuck McDevitt indicated to the Fish and Game folks that our quiet Gliding should not be allowed. In stark contrast they then discussed use of short range weapons and fire arm safety at Hammer Flats. It seems clear that Fish and Game always wanted to preserve a hunting option for the property, and by using deer habitat as the "magic words" they could convince the city to limit other activities that would eventually burden their core mission statement (i.e. Growing and Harvesting game.)

We received a more positive note from Jeff Gildehaus a long time glider instructor and full time outdoorsman who flew the Crow Gliding Area for many years. Jeff says this about the Crow. "The fact that 35+ years of flying and the wildlife has been there all along speaks volumes about the compatibility."

Public pressure for the City to do the right thing and open "our land" to compatible use continues to grow. Most folks know in their hearts that we can have lovely deer habitat in areas that people can enjoy too. News channel 7 broadcast a story about the proposed sale to Fish and Game last week.

In the interview Mayor Bieter said..."Geographically, it's a pretty important area for hang gliding and we'll certainly work with all the parties as much as we can to accommodate that." The Mayor stated that hunting would not be allowed by the City as terms of the sale to Fish and Game. The story grew more interesting when the Governor of Idaho later said on talk radio that the State would not buy the property unless Hunting was allowed.

Here is an aerial shot of our hill looking NW. Because the Crow Gliding Area is on the city/people side of the Hammer Flats property, next to the existing homes in the area, it represents an ideal buffer and brush fire safety zone for all of the deer brush that Fish and Game plans on planting. It would also be an ideal area to locate a small parking area for our activity and other outdoor recreation going into the Hammer Flats area and up the Cobbs ridge to rivers trail.

This coming Friday, the City has scheduled a meeting between the Idaho Hang Gliding Association and the Chief of Staff for the Mayor along with the President of the City Council. We look forward to the meeting. We know that our Gliding activity is compatible with almost any outdoor management plan, and any willing agency, as we have demonstrated all across our great nation. We believe that we can partner and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and put together a great plan.

Looks like we are making a difference folks. Remember, democracy will only work if we participate. Please continue to call and write to your elected officials. Please Call Mayor Biter's hotline at (208) 384-4404 and share with him how you feel. It looks like he may be sensitive to saving a great outdoor gliding legacy as he works in "Making Boise the most livable city in the country."

Keep good thoughts about saving the Crow Gliding Area, we will see what the Mayor's Office has to say on Friday.

Blaine, Lisa, Patrick, Aaron, and John,

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Crow Flying Site Overview

Incredible Glass off at the Crow last night (Saturday)

Crow Flying Area from Aaron Beck on Vimeo.

and an awesome day of boating around the Boise Valley in go-anywhere-you-want conditions on Sunday at 8th Street.

"The whole valley is lifting." -Mark D.

Congrats to Lewer for his first successful thermal flight.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finally allowed a voice?

"Geographically, it (the Crow Gliding Area) is a pretty important area for Hang Gliding. We'll certainly work with all the parties as much as we can to accomodate that (access)."
"We'll work with them with access as much as is appropriate..."
--Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, May 27 2010. Channel 7 news at six on air interview.

Not quite yet a sigh of relief, but it sounds as if we might finally have an opportunity to sit down, speak with and engage with the City of Boise.

Be ever positive with one another and everyone else who is a non-flyer.

We pilots know that we participate in a non-motorized, open space and geographically dependent activity that is compatible with the City of Boise's desires. Through first hand experience at the Crow when vultures join us at the ridge, or red-tails hook up with us in a thermal or when deer or antelope pay us no more mind than a skyward glance then turn back to grazing on bunch-grasses we know that there is no substantiated reason to exclude us from the air.

What a wonderful world and time we live in - when we humans can soar wing-tip to wing-tip with the "real" pilots of the world.

Still, nothing is known. Things can change daily. Hold together. Hold the high ground. Be a positive force in the world.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A local blogger is picking up the Levy Fund/Hammer Flat/Crow Flying Area questions.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Crow Flying Area Update, May 21, 2010

Hello, this is the Crow Gliding Area update for May 21st, 2010.

Blaine Perkins about to land after a beautiful evening flight at the Crow Gliding Area.

Our team has been very busy this week. Today we sent Public Record Requests to both the City of Boise and Idaho Fish and Game regarding their closed door meetings. They should receive the requests on Monday, and under State law they will have 3 days to respond.

Also today, we had most of our story published online at the Boise Weekly.

Last week, we had an article published in the Idaho Statesman, both in print and online. The day the Statesman article came out the paper ran an online poll. With 650 responses in just one day, twice as many readers felt that the property should remain open for recreation compared to those who felt the property should be locked up for deer only.

All outdoor groups in Boise need to be made aware of these articles. We need to expand everyone's understanding of this emerging situation. Attached at the bottom of this update is our commentary which can be published by any bloggers who wish to share the story with any groups, facebook, etc.

Keep the letters and phone calls going in to our elected representatives. They work for us and not the other way around.

Blaine, Lisa, Patrick, Aaron, and John.

Are we being hammered at Hammer Flats?

Back in 2001 Boise voters passed a $10 million dollar open space serial levy to do five specific things. By statute, serial levies must do that which they say they will do. When we voted, our ballots stated that "approved levy funds will: Protect water quality; Preserve wildlife habitat; Provide increased recreational areas for walking, biking, and other outdoor activities; Limit overdevelopment and traffic; and Protect natural vegetation that prevents mudflows and washouts."

This spring, Boise spent the last $4 million dollars of our trust fund buying the 700 acre Hammer Flats property including the Crow Gliding Area just above the Crow Inn. Immediately and without any public meetings or input, the City announced that Hammer Flats would be managed by IDFG (Idaho Department of Fish and Game.) One IDFG manager was then quoted saying this about Hammer Flats "if people are thinking in terms of additional recreational opportunities, they're probably going to be disappointed." Some reports stated that no new trails and roads would be built. Other reports indicated that even existing roads and trails could be closed. One thing is for certain, our expectations and our open space is being spun by Boise City and the IDFG.

The Fish and Game mission statement reads "All wildlife.. shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. for. continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping." In other words, IDFG grows fish and animals so that they can be harvested. Nothing is said about managing people and outdoor activities.

What we don't know; Why are Boise hikers, runners, bicyclists, hang gliders, climbers, equestrians, dog owners, and other outdoor enthusiasts are being ignored by the City in favor of IDFG and their mission statement to grow and harvest animals? Why is Hammer Flats not being integrated into the Boise Park and Recreation system where its many uses including winter habitat can be balanced? Just who in Boise City is making the decisions to ignore the citizens, and the letter and intent of the serial levy?

What we know: The final half of our Boise open space trust fund is now being earmarked to benefit the IDFG. Private meetings are now being held between IDFG and Boise City. Outdoor user groups have not been contacted by Boise City, including those who have expressed a desire to utilize the open space at Hammer Flats. No public meetings have occurred. The first time "we the people" will have an opportunity to comment "on the deal" will be when the City Council votes on the matter after IDFG and Boise City finish their private meetings. IDFG has already locked the gates to our land and has posted their signs prior to any agreement. IDFG will use No Trespassing Laws to enforce "their" lands.

John Kangas,

Lifetime Boise Resident and

Spokesperson - Idaho Hang Gliding Association

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saturday May, 15

I had wanted to head out to Squaw Butte, but couldn't recruit anyone else to go flying so I took care of some morning obligations then hiked 8th Street alone. I got there about 45 minutes late. The sky was grey North towards Bogus, but not menacing. I hurried to launch before clouds grew too much and shut things down. Had a heck of a time climbing out, but finally did climb out of the 8th st. launch for the first time. I was sans GPS, but by eyeball I got even with the top of bogus (about 7,300) a couple times - I'm guessing around 3,000 below base.

Look at the morning sounding from the Boise airport. See what happens somewhere between 7 and 8 thousand?
Wind direction changes 180 degrees. Never could get any higher and things seems disorganized. Now, I had failed to note this sheer before heading out so I wasn't looking for it or excuses and it is only a net difference of a few knots. Is that wind direction change really what kept me from climbing higher? Does it really make that much of a difference? Or is it just my inexperience and lame flying. Someone with more experience have a strong opinion?

Notice anything else out of sorts? No inversion in the Boise Valley. When does that ever happen?

I really wanted to go somewhere (maybe the crow) so I pointed things south working the ridge road, tree pockets and the terrain a few times out in front. Pushed bar across wide open spaces as clouds covered the ridge line where I had shot images of Monty kiting this winter. Crossed Rocky Canyon Road, worked a nice little bowl, and hooked back onto the sunny ridge on my way south. Got jammed up just before Lucky Peak/Shaw Mountain Bird observatory/ radio towers. Surfed the ridge for about 10 passes, maintaining, hoping, but not quite able to make it over and around.

Doinky first flight of the year. Into the wind. Felt a little rusty. But super fun and exciting to be in the air again.

Landed out in no-man's-land south of Rocky Canyon road. Packed up, ate some food, hiked out to the road and found the biggest, fruitiest, most flavorful fruit roll up like rose hips I've ever eaten. Great treat.

Got a ride back to St. Luke's Hospital with Chris the hot-dog vendor who works the Egyptian Theatre corner downtown. Thank Chris. I still want to come check out your straw-bale and grain silo houses in Boise County.

Patrick picked me up in town. We returned to my truck, set a shuttle, kicked willow bushes in his tandem for an extended/barely maintaining sledder. Marshal drove up a little late, but gave us a ride back to our rig and Patrick uncovered his beer stash from a snowbank. Great day.