Land purchase means new wildlife preserve in Boise

The last major purchase from the Boise Foothills levy may prove to be the most significant one of all, Mayor Dave Bieter said Tuesday.

The city's $4.1 million deal to secure Hammer Flat means The Cliffs, a proposed 707-acre development, will become a permanent winter home for pronghorn, elk and one of the largest mule deer herds in the state.

It resolves one of the most heated land-use disputes the Valley has seen in decades, ensures a legacy for a longtime Boise family - the Johnsons - and rewards the community spirit that spurred a majority of voters to raise their own property taxes for two years almost a decade ago.

"This is not this council's doing," Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said. "This is the citizens of Boise who stepped up to the plate in 2001 and voted with their dollars to say, yes, this is a high priority, we do need to protect these places and we are willing to pay so you can do that. ...

"This is one of the really fine days of the six years I've been here, maybe the best."

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