By Bill Clayton
I’ve been living on a beautiful tree farm on the Boise River in Star for many decades. Somehow I got roped into serving on the Boise River Flood Control District #10 Board of Directors in the late 1980s, and I’ve served on the board ever since – for more than 30 years.
Almost 53 years ago, when a District Court judge granted the petition to form Flood #10, farmers were most interested in keeping the Boise River channel clear of trees and debris. The interests of trout anglers, recreational river floaters and others were not top of mind, at least to the three farmers who served on the original board, beginning in 1971.
This was a time when concrete rip rap and old car bodies (known as “Detroit rip rap”) were used to shore up stream banks, bulldozers were used to push up gravel to maintain irrigation diversions, and the Boise River Greenbelt was in its infancy.
The approach to management was all they knew. We’ve learned a lot since those days.
Over time, as broader discussions occurred via forums like Boise River 2000, Idaho Environmental Forum annual Boise River float trips, and the Boise River Enhancement Network (BREN), we at Flood #10 know we have to balance a multiplicity of interests.
A planning exercise called “Boise River 2000” got us talking. There was very little communication and not much trust between the different groups using the river.
A friend, Tom “Chel” Chelstrom, long-time manager of the Boise REI store, now retired, and an avid canoeist, said this about our evolution: “It’s gone from we’ve got a job to do and you’re not part of it, to today, where we’ve got a job to do, and how can we all do it while accommodating all of the other interests in the Boise River.”
Chel pretty much nailed it with that statement. We at Flood #10 have a many interests to balance when we’re managing the Boise River and maintaining an open river channel during the winter months.
Our stakeholders include private landowners, Ada County, the cities of Boise, Eagle, Star, Caldwell and Middleton, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers and more.
Mike Dimmick has been our District Manager since 2014. Mike has shown a special gift for working with all of our partners and stakeholders on the Boise River. He’s a good listener. He’s been proactive in proposing river management projects that have lasting benefits. He’s worked with many landowners on various private property issues along the river. And he’s worked with our consulting engineers to apply for and win State Flood Management Grants from the Idaho Water Resource Board.
Those flood grants have been a game-changer for us, providing a steady source of state funds to make modern riverbank improvements done right with a mix of proper design and engineering, anchor rock, willows and woody material to ensure those bank repairs are done in a sustainable way.
Our Boise River 2-D Model Tool, funded with a state flood grant along with sizeable contributions from our stakeholder partners, is becoming a state-of-the-art river management planning tool for Flood #10 and our partner agencies.
And as a longtime angler, I have marveled at the new partnership between Flood #10 and the Boise Valley Fly Fishers club in which BVFF has marked brown trout redds (nests) in advance of the winter maintenance season to ensure that those redds aren’t disturbed by our heavy equipment working in the Boise River.
Mike Dimmick is retiring from Flood #10 in August. Before he moves on, we wanted to thank Mike for an amazing job well-done that will set up Flood #10 for success in the future. He’s handing over the reins to Mark Zirschky, who has many years of experience working for the Pioneer Irrigation District.
It makes me happy to know we’re in a good place and positioned well for the future because of Mike’s outstanding, forward-thinking work.
Bill Clayton is Chairman of Boise River Flood Control #10 Board of Directors.