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The weather was kind to the Treasure Valley on Easter Sunday. Spring has fought to get a foot up on winter this year. Boiseans are starved for warm, dry weather. My friend and I celebrated the weather truce with a hike in the Harrison Hollow area.

Sagebrush
When I was working for the Postal Service, I often took my lunch break in the parking lot behind the Healthwise building. I was fascinated by the stream of hikers, bikers, runners, and dogs that disappeared from sight on the trail that squirts out the end of Harrison Hollow road. The Hollow has garnered hot media attention recently so I decided it was high time I found out what was out there.
It’s not a hike I would enjoy during the baking months of July and August. But it is perfect for an early or late season hike. Even after record rain the preceding week, the sandy trails along the foothills were dry and easy to negotiate. Birds were abundant; my favorite—the Western Meadowlark—serenaded me during most of the hike.
Arrowleaf balsamroot

Arrowleaf balsamroot flowers brazenly accented the dry grasses that are just beginning to green up. A group of astute hikers drew my attention to a rare wild onion blossom. Allium aaseae is a member of the lily family that grows in only a few areas of the world which happen to be in Ada, Gem, and Washington counties of Idaho. This plant requires course, sandy soil with strong southern hillside exposures from 2,600 feet to 4,900 feet. It shares its habitat with sagebrush and bitterbrush. Aase blooms as early as February during a particularly early, warm spring, but more commonly in April and May. The blooming season last for only two weeks. The plant is rare and unique enough to be considered for the Endangered Species Act.

Allium aaseae
Thanks to a bothersome breeze my picture of the wooly-pod milkvetch is pretty lousy, but I really liked this plant, which grows close to the ground, surrounded by grey, hairy leaves. It is a member of the pea family, but is, unfortunately, considered poisonous.
 
Harrison Hollow is indeed worthy of attention. The Land Trust of Treasure Valley has seized a unique opportunity to purchase the 58-acre parcel of foothills land. The current land owner has spoiled Treasure Valley residents by endorsing public use of his property. Horses, bikes, and feet have enjoyed the space for years. But freebies can’t go on forever.  The owner is ready to sell.  Along with the Land Trust’s offer to purchase, came a developer’s larger bid to purchase. We are fortunate that this owner can afford his philanthropic desire to see the land set aside as open space. But philanthropy can only go so far. The Land Trust has till the end of 2011 to raise funds to cover their bid. With the generous support of the J.A. and Katherine Albertson Foundation, the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association, and Healthwise, among others, 60 percent of the funds are in hand. It is now up to our community to raise the remaining $232,000.
The Harrison Hollow Campaign is the first in a crown of jewels that the city could add to its foothills open space.  The Hillside to Hollow (H2H) area encompasses 400 acres of undeveloped private property parcels in the foothills from 36th street to Bogus Basin Road. City recreationalists enjoy the use of these properties by the good will of their owners. Future protection of each of these parcels of would connect H2H with the already existing Ridges to Rivers network of trails. We’ve accomplished miracles in the past; community support that saved Hulls Gulch during a down economy is one case in point. Hopefully we’ll be able to match our former enthusiasm and commitment to preserving open spaces in which to recreate as well as to calm our frenetic lives and to enjoy wildlife and wild plants.
More information about the Campaign for Harrison Hollow or H2H is available.
Campaign for Harrison Hollow:  http://www.lttv.org/node/30
Hillside to Hollow Coalition:  http://www.hillsidetothehollow.org/  
You can become part of the future by contributing! http://lttv.org/?q=node/9 or http://www.hillsidetothehollow.org/donate.html