SPOTLIGHT: New Book Highlights History Of Boise's Greenbelt

Jul 13, 2016

This is how the Boise River looked when it served as a dumping ground.
Credit Gordon Bowen Collection / Boise City Department of Arts and History

It’s 25 miles long and stretches from Eagle to Lucky Peak. The Greenbelt is Boise’s premiere biking and walking path. But how did dozens of separate chunks of riverside pathway eventually end up as one long greenbelt?

Using city documents, interviews with Greenbelt pioneers and historical research, Author David Proctor tells the story in his new book, “Pathway of Dreams: Building the Boise Greenbelt.”

In the 1950s, it was just a gleam in the eye of members of the Kiwanis Club. Proctor says it took decades of effort, planning and vision from a core group of dedicated individuals to slowly piece the Greenbelt together.

“It wasn’t just gifted to us and it wasn’t put there by some kind of government fiat, it was there because people saw the possibilities and they wanted it to happen. That’s what created the Greenbelt.”

Those dedicated volunteers sent a photographer in a helicopter to fly along the proposed Greenbelt area in 1970. Using footage of the Boise River, they made a short film from an angle that most people had never seen before. They took the film on the civic club circuit and started winning the hearts and minds of Boise. You can see that film today on YouTube.

Today, the Boise River Greenbelt runs along a vibrant, thriving city landscape. But in the 1960s, before the pathway, the Boise River was used as a garbage dump and the city was struggling.

“The Greenbelt was an important part of revitalizing Boise in the 1970s. Downtown Boise was a mess. The city was a mess. Part of the reason that that changed was the Greenbelt.”

“Pathway of Dreams: Building the Boise Greenbelt” is out now on Amazon, Rediscovered Books in Boise, and the Flying M Coffee House.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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