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Parks and Rec to address Camel's Back Park erosion: 'It's going to start to be dangerous'

Erosion is visible on the top of the hill at Camel's Back Park, both on the platform and on the sides of the trail.

The iconic hill at Camel's Back Park in Boise is eroding, scientists say, and needs to be addressed before it gets more dangerous.

The sandy soil has been sliding since the trail first opened, but rainfall and heavy use has contributed to the recent changes on the hillside.

"When you put a trail straight up the side of a hill with sandy soils, erosion is just something that's going to happen," said Boise Parks and Recreation planning manager Toby Norton.

Scientists also point to the bottom of the hill as evidence of the growing amount of sliding over time.

"You can see how it expands all the way out into the grass," Norton said. "Every year it creeps out a little bit further."

Norton tells KBOI 2News the majority of the erosion is happening on the sides of the steep slope, where foot traffic is heaviest.

"Some of our posts are getting to the bottom of them, and they're going to start getting loose," Norton said. "That's something we need to fix."

The hill at Camel's Back Park draws heavy traffic during all four seasons. Many hikers agree that they've seen changes in the hillside over the years, whether they hike it on a weekly basis, or only once every few years.

"Four years ago I used to come up here quite a bit, and as far as I remember, you could walk up it relatively easy. It was steep obviously, but it didn't have the erosion it has now," said Meridian resident Clay Mathews. "Came back in the spring and noticed how bad it was. I couldn't believe it, it's pretty surprising just what's happened with it."

"We hike up here every month," said Meridian resident Julie Arevalo. "We used to hike right up the hill, and we now have found different trails to get up here. It's scary. I'm scared to bring my little kids up here, I'm afraid they're going to fall."

Park planners, engineers and city leaders are working to slow down the erosion process by making changes to the hillside.

"It's eroding enough that it's going to start to be dangerous," Norton said.

Parks and Recreation will be holding an open house at Camel's Back Park on June 9, designed to get feedback from the public on a couple of potential plans that would help combat the soil movement. Norton wouldn't give details of the two different concepts, but says they would likely include a series of walls and organic steps, along with more vegetation in the area. However, he says the changes won't affect the look of the iconic hill.

"We have people who tell us that they climbed this when they were kids, now their kids are doing it, and they'd like to see their kids climbing it still too," Norton said. "We want to make sure it's here for generations to come."


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