What is the Foothills Levy? A Look Into Boise’s Open Space Conservation Tool


Part of what makes Boise one of the most popular towns nationwide to live in is our abundance of open space. Residents can walk, bike, or drive for just a few minutes in practically any direction and voila – there’s a trailhead, or a park, or a riverside walking path.

We can’t stop growth, but we can protect open space for all residents to enjoy. With the continued support of voters, the City of Boise has prioritized land conservation for decades. In 2001, 2015 and in 2019, Boiseans voted to set aside funds dedicated specifically to the preservation of open space in our rapidly-developing community. The Foothills Levy, which can be used to acquire parcels, scenic, trail and conservation easements and to complete projects like trailheads, is a crucial tool for retaining dwindling undeveloped land. 

 When conservation issues come up on the ballot, CVI is quick to step up to bat in defense of our natural spaces, particularly in urban environments where green spaces can be few and far between. Our team has mobilized Boiseans on open space policy several times; including working to get the 2015 and 2019 levies across the finish line. Requiring a 66% approval to pass a levy, getting enough “yes” votes is usually a challenge. We had to pull out all the stops to ensure voters were heard among the din of developers and big business builders. CVI knocked doors, made phone calls, and conducted outreach to educate the public about what open space conservation could mean for a city like Boise. Read a recap of our work on the 2015 campaign. All open space levies have passed with plenty of room to spare, a clear indication that Boiseans value access to the land.

Several projects have benefitted over the years from the Foothills Levy, such as the Hillside to Hollow Reserve and the trail to Stack Rock. The most recent approval will go toward the Hawkins Range Reserve & Trailhead to improve access, parking and trail conditions at the reserve, which is located off Bogus Basin Road. Projects using Foothills Levy funds must be vetted by both the Boise Open Space Committee and by Boise City Council. Hawkins received approval on May 10. We expect to hear more about the Hawkins project soon.