Mountain bikers worry Boise may do away with some foothills trails

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Some mountain bikers who use the Boise foothills are concerned the city may do away with some of the trails in the Hillside to Hollow area in North Boise.

Hillside to Hollow was privately owned until last year, when the city bought it out. For decades, mountain bikers have been using unofficial trails in the area. But now the city is coming up with a new "master plan" for the area that bikers say may close down the majority of the trails.

Steve Noyes, who's biked throughout Hillside to Hollow for the past 20 years, says he's attended both of the city's public forums on the area and doesn't like what he's heard.

"They feel any trail over ten percent is up for question, whether it should be saved or not," Noyes said.

He's referring to a ten percent grade of steepness. Steeper trails cause more erosion.

"What are you seeing in the foothills, is that what we want to see?" questioned Boise foothills manager Julia Grant in an interview with KBOI. "Do we like to see erosive hillsides, scars on the hillsides, or do we want to see restoration in those areas?"

Grant says the city is worried the hills' natural habitat is at stake. But Boise doesn't plan to shut down any trails just yet.

KBOI reporter Jacqulyn Powell asked, "Ultimately, is it the public's decision?"

Grant replied, "I would say it's partly public decision, partly us as a city manager of an asset that the citizens have helped us buy. Yes, we want public input, but we have to be responsible for the long term care of this land."

Noyes warns that the city should make its decision keeping in mind that mountain biking is a fast growing activity in the area.

"That's going to put more of a strain, more of a burden if any trails close," Noyes said. "More traffic, more conflict more erosion, more use, when these trails already exist."