20 years ago the City of Boise promised to turn the163 acre Murgoitio Park site into a park with sport fields, walking paths, a nature preserve, and more. People have been paying and looking forward to it. The official papers tell that it is illegal for the property to be used as anything but agriculture, empty space, or a park.
Me and many others have enjoyed the wildlife that live in the open space. There is a canal and several ditches, and a few trees. I have seen over 40 species of birds there (14 of which are raptors) and I haven’t even tried that hard! There are also foxes, coyotes, weasels, badgers, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, and a large variety of rodents (including gophers and Yellow Bellied Marmots). And lots of plants!
This is the last large open space in South West Boise and for many people, this is all the nature they have access to. We don’t mind not having a fancy park, we like our field just the way it is. And this isn’t just for SW Boise, people from all over the county enjoy this park.
To keep it simple, last year the city decided they would make more money by selling it to a developer. We have proven to them (and they well know) that it is illegal and have begged them to stop, but they won’t listen to us. Many of us our concerned for the wildlife. They will probably poison the rodents, which will in turn kill all that eats the rodents.
But the people in the area have given more resistance than the city expected. We are fighting against them with all we have. But the city won’t give up.
I’m posting here to spread the word, and also to ask for advice. And hope too. Have you ever dealt with something like this? Were you successful?
We pulled it off here, but it took a lot of time and money. This site gives a lot of info on how the developer was stopped: https://www.foothillsforever.org/
One thought is to find a protected species that uses the land, then see if the federal gov’t will stand behind you.
Is this the website here? https://saveourpark.net
Yep, that’s the website. It’s a little outdated though. The most recent updates and news can be found at Friends Of Murgoitio Park on Facebook. I think they’re on Instagram too but I don’t know much about that.
Thank you for the advice and link! I just went and looked into protected species. The only one I know of that might be found there is the Monarch Butterfly. I’ll have to check for caterpillars next spring. Is there another place I could look for more protected species?
Can you get any of the large and rich environmental charities on your side? They will have the resources and contacts to take up the legal case and they will know which politicians to lean on.
Here is the FB link from the bottom of the website. Their FB is active and updated
Spread the word. Get a petition going. Try to reach local news services. Neighbourhood groups. Local schools who might use the space for nature classes.
We have achieved a small success from much noise
Here in Greenville, SC we are famous for our water quality. One reason is https://www.conesteepreserve.org. Its property happens to be right next to https://rewaonline.org a water processing plant. I’ve notice your park is not that far from a canal. I’m not a hydrologist but surely this greenspace is crucial to the health of your city’s water.
I am aware of a few successful grassroots campaigns that changed the city’s course of action in my area. Some tactics:
To increase your grassroots base, perhaps try spread the word through Boise-area NextDoor.com postings?
One course of action is a letter writing campaign to elected officials.
If the land is part of the local watershed, perhaps your local water district may help.
A local movement to save Lake Almaden in San Jose was successful. Among other things, They posted large banners at a busy street (“Save Lake Almaden”) to raise awareness. There was a letter-writing campaign. They got Audubon Society involved; who did helped with that one, as this lake was a significant nesting area for water fowl.
I hesitate to bring up this one, because one always hopes for a more amicable solution. But, if it is an actual law they are attempting to circumvent, bringing in legal action may be an option. Lawsuits can delay implementation long enough to get more public support built up.
A hail Mary approach is probably best, with specific regard to what @dianastuder said for the greatest effect you want to make things as easy as possible for people. Having template emails that people use along with a list of people to send their messages to will help immensely at maximizing the number of people willing to contribute. In this day and age with so many things grabbing at people’s attention, many are usually willing to give a few minutes of their time for a cause but if it requires significant effort you’ll lose a lot of potential people. Consider having them write to state and local government. Reaching out to land trusts and conservation organizations may help (especially given some have access to legal means), and it may be worth considering having people write letters to them as well to show how much the public is interested in this issue. Reach out to the local press and see if you can get the issue published. Emphasize why it’s so important and how promises from the city have not been fulfilled, with as much physical evidence as possible.
If it’s illegal, call in some lawyers and take them to court. Something like the Southern Environmental Law Center or your local land trust may be able to help.
Document species present and maybe you’ll find something State or Federally protected. Just don’t trespass or it may be wasted effort.
More thoughts: If you haven’t already, make sure to stress the health benefits of parks and trails. And in addition to the normal benefits, COVID times have seen the visitation to parks and greenways skyrocket as folks seek out places to go where they can be active and stay safe.
You need to contact the media and all the nature organizations. You should read what about Bell Bowl Prairie and how they are currently fighting to preserve that remnant prairie un IL. Please please fight this!
I’m so sorry to hear that. We’re having the same issue here in Ontario… Metrolinx wants to build a train layover facility on protected urban greenspace along the Don River. So many people have worked to re-naturalize the area for years and years… only for corporate greed to give them a big ol’ slap in the face. I’d say reach out to some nature organizations in your area with any protected species you may have found within the park. In my old city, I discovered a small population of an endangered species of turtle in a long-abandoned farm pond. I reached out to the local conservation authority, and it’s now an official factor against development in the area!
Thanks for this reference. We sent emails to Durbin and DOT in support of Bell Bowl Prairie.
If you start a petition I’ll sign.
Thank you for the support and advice everyone! This coming week I’ll look into some Idaho law and nature conservancies, and go wildlife watching in the park.
Do you have a project here on iNat? A species list to add to?