A Brief History of the Friends of Military Reserve

I discovered the Fort Boise Military Reserve in 1977 during my occasional Boise visits. As the Idaho Conservation League’s first field organizer, I was in Boise every month or so. The Reserve was a virtually unknown retreat into the “outback” less than a mile from the office. During breaks from staff meetings, I had discovered hidden bowers perfect for meditation or a picnic on the grass.

I moved to Boise for good in 1978 to supervise ICL’s growing field-organizing efforts, living in several North End Boise rentals, always close to the foothills. For two years in the early-’80s, I lived half way up Bogus Basin Rd. at the Hawkins ranch, which the city recently purchased with foothills levy funds. While caretaking the 160-acre ranch, I acquired an energetic black Lab, and after we moved back into town, Boomer made sure we walked daily in the foothills, usually the Military Reserve. In fact, it was on one of his walks in 1986 that we discovered the home on the reserve boundary that we bought and have occupied for more than 30 years.

Shortly after we moved into our home on a half-acre adjacent to the reserve, Alice Dieter came calling. Alice and her husband Les, were among the first residents when Aldape Heights was subdivided in the 1950s. Les was among a team of Mountain Bell employees transferred to Boise from Denver in 1955. Alice, a writer for Sam Day’s Intermountain Observer, also was one of Idaho’s first female broadcast journalists. On the Boise Parks Board in the 1960s and ’70s, she helped shape Boise’s park system as it was transformed into a full-fledged city department under director Gordon Bowen. They successfully initiated then-controversial projects like the Greenbelt and thwarted many inappropriate ones. Alice was a force to be reckoned with.

When I welcomed Alice into our living room that afternoon in 1986, she got right down to business. “Gary,” she said, “you and I are going to start the Friends of Military Reserve.” She paused just long enough for me to understand that this was a direction, not a suggestion. “When the North End and the East End begin limiting access to foothills development, access through Military Reserve is not going to be an option,” she explained. Thus, the Friends of Military Reserve was born with Alice Dieter as its first chair. I succeeded her in 1989 and Pam Marcum succeeded me in the early ’90s, followed by Don and Marie Essig as co-chairs.

Alice had been among neighbors of the reserve who had become concerned in the 1970s when developers were seen in the reserve speculating on its development potential. With the help of neighbor Bill Dunlop, the US Dept. of Interior Solicitor for Idaho, the group pressured for a revised patent of the Military Reserve to the city that would revert the reserve back to the United States if threatened by development. The resulting 1981 “recreational and public purposes” patent includes an attached master “plan of development,” which is actually a plan to protect the reserve from development.

In addition to the concern that Mountain Cove Rd. not become a thoroughfare for foothills development, were other forms of encroachment into the reserve—off-road vehicles, decades of trash dumping, shooting and archery practice, paintball games, runoff and erosion from adjacent streets, dumping and other incursions from adjacent properties. Our first official action was to request a new survey of the reserve boundary. The survey revealed several encroachments, not the least of which was the lower portion of our own driveway.

Our neighbors across Santa Paula Ct, who built one of the first homes on the street, recalled the day in 1958 when Joe Aldape plowed his D-9 Caterpillar up the hill to carve out what became the driveway to the home we later bought, unaware of the encroachment. The reserve had only recently been patented to the city and initially was treated pretty much as a wasteland. The boundary’s location was easily overlooked at the time. Gov. Andrus’ dog’s kennel also had to be moved, along with several other encroachments. The largest incursion, 3,220 square feet adjoining the Eaton property along the reserve’s northern boundary, was finally settled with a 2001 boundary-adjustment/property-transfer creating trail and emergency access to the reserve at the end of Claremont Dr.

There were repeated attempts over the years to “upgrade” Mountain Cove Rd. in violation of the original master plan, which specified that “Parking lots and upgraded roads including the three main roads will have a gravel surface.” In 1988, likely responding to pressure from property owners, the city quietly got the BLM to sign off on a plan amendment allowing “the granting a right-of-way to the Ada County Highway District for the Mountain Cove Road and authorizes paving of the road.”

ACHD actually began preparing Mountain Cove Rd for paving. I personally confronted the crew manager and explained that the highway district did not have jurisdiction. They left. While the city had been allowed to grant right-of-way to the district, it had not yet done so. Friends of Military Reserve demanded a public hearing, which was held Oct. 30, 1990, where paving the road was overwhelmingly opposed. Yet, a year later, the Ada Planning Association proposed a Mountain Cove Parkway through the reserve. Each time the proposal to pave the road comes up, it has successfully been thwarted. My guess is that, like the proposal for a cross-foothills thoroughfare, it will continue to crop up from time to time unless a clear prohibition laid out in the reserve master plan puts that genie back in the bottle.

Relocation of the archery range out of the reserve was an issue pursued by FMR from its inception until it was finally accomplished a decade later. Initially, the archers had located a site on Hubbard Rd and were working with the county. That site eventually fell through, and the present site in the second retention basin seemed the ideal solution.

1989 Trail Blazer

It took about a decade of persistent effort to end off-road-vehicle abuse in the reserve. Emplacement of rock barriers, improved enforcement and a few high-profile prosecutions of off-roaders eventually did the trick. Part of improved enforcement was educating reserve neighbors about how to to make non-emergency requests to officers familiar with the reserve and its restrictions.

Friends of Military Reserve joined with other citizen groups and federal, state, county, and city agencies to form the Boise Front Coalition, which led to establishment of the multi-agency Ridge-to-Rivers trail system. FoMR members participated in the campaign and negotiations to save Hulls Gulch from residential development, which became Boise’s next foothills reserve.  We also helped draft the city’s first comprehensive Foothills Plan, another years-long collaborative effort of neighborhood, conservation, developer and property-owner interests.

With city leaders’ growing awareness of the value of its reserves as shown by support and implementation of the foothills/open-space levy, the need for the watchdog activities of Friends of Military Reserve seemed to diminish in the late ’90s. It is time to revisit that notion; we are awakening the watchdog lulled asleep by our past successes.

Boise’s first open-space reserve is once again threatened by development. City leaders have recently approved construction of a “world-class bike-skills park” in the Military Reserve. If it became the regional attraction some hope it to be, it would negatively affect neighborhood traffic, public safety and emergency services, as well as the natural, ecological values for which the Reserve was created.

Plans to design and build the bike-skills park in Military Reserve were developed without the open, transparent public involvement promised by the city’s Open Space Reserves plans. The city council approved the bike park development agreement without discussion as an item on its March 13, 2018, consent agenda. That action was in violation of the Boise-City-Code requirement that all park and open-space development agreements be reviewed by the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners whose recommendations are then considered by the City Council. [BCC §13-01-04(G)]

Blindsided by the Council’s action, a group of Military Reserve users and neighbors decided to resuscitate the Friends of Military Reserve. At Council President Lauren McLean’s invitation, she and President pro tempore Elaine Clegg met with 16 of us on May 14, 2018. Ms. McLean acknowledged that they’d screwed up. We asked if—in response to the widespread concerns about the lack of proper public process expressed in comments taken at the April 4th “open house”—a hearing could be held before the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Open-Space Advisory Committee to revisit the decision to build the bike-skills park in the Reserve.

Council President McLean said that it had been a unaminous vote of the council that couldn’t be reconsidered and our only opportunity for public input would be to appeal the staff-issued permits to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Thus, Friends of Military Reserve appealed the improperly authorized Floodplain and Hillside development permits. [CFH18-00051 and CFH18-00052]

We were joined in the appeal by Wildlands Defense and Great Old Broads for Wilderness. The East End Neighborhood Assn. filed a separate appeal. The basic complaint of all the appeals is the lack of the transparent, open public involvement promised in the city’s open-space reserve management plans.

There’s been no study or even discussion of the impact of the decision on traffic, parking, safety or emergency access in the nearby neighborhoods already challenged by the St. Luke’s expansion, construction of the Boise High athletic complex adjacent to Fort Boise, relocation of Hillside Elementary to the Lincoln School on Fort St. Nor has there been any analysis of the spin-off effects of a “world-class” cycling attraction on the natural ecology for which the city’s first open-space reserve was created.

Backstory

The backstory that’s emerging: Joe Scott, grandson of Joe Albertson and head of the family foundation is an avid dirt and mountain biker. He, for instance, leaned on US Sen. Jim Risch to oppose the Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness because it would limit mountain-bike access. If you’ve seen what’s happened in the foothills above the Eagle bike park, which I believe also was funded by the Albertson Foundation, we fear that’s what’s in store for the Military Reserve. We have yet to determine how and by whom MR was chosen as the site. But we know why. They want access through the reserve to the Ridge-to-Rivers trail system. The original plan for the world-class bike park had two down-hill, bike-only thrill trails in the reserve—one down a swale on the face of Eagle Ridge that would have dumped out next to a geothermal well-house, another to the north of the upper Central Ridge Trail. After we raised a stink, those were eliminated; but two more are planned, one in the Freestone drainage above MR that will dump riders onto the Central Ridge Trail (#22); another, above Hulls Gulch. Relocation of the archery range back into the “natural” part of the reserve is on hold as they seek another site. FoMR spent about a decade to get the range moved out in the ’90s, when it was located at the end of the Toll Rd at the eastern corner of the reserve.

We’re still making public records requests to piece together how it all went down, but the city is being very chary about fulfilling them. Most of the documents sought have been denied as attorney-client privilege. The process was conducted behind closed doors. According to Lauren McLean and Elaine Clegg, foothills users surveyed at trailhead entrances to the reserves 1-2 years ago said having a bike skills park was a high priority. We asked to see the surveys and the analysis; first, they were promised, then we’re told to make a PRR to obtain them. The last survey we’ve found, done in 2015 shows nary a word about a bike-skills park. However, when the 2014 Hillside-to-Hollow master plan was developed through a facilitated public involvement process, a bike-skills park was sought and sited at Hillside Park, between the jr. high and the golf course. We’re told that MR was chosen after an exhaustive siting process examining alternatives that included Hillside.

According to Jimmy Hallyburton of the Boise Bicycle Project, he and Dylan Gradhandt of the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League, and SWIMBA began consulting on the project a couple years ago. We have yet to discover if that was a parks and rec process, the foundation’s, or both; it was not an open, transparent one. Clearly, they want a world-class attraction where they can hold regional events comparable to the X-Games at Rhodes Park, which Albertsons also funded. They even had such an event already scheduled for MR this August!

My experience organizing around environmental issues has taught me that often our “successes” have been slowing down a bad process long enough for reality to catch up. My hope is that we can force the city to fix the process by having the proposal sent back to the parks and rec dept to be presented to the parks and rec commission where it will be given a public hearing. There alternatives and impacts on the neighborhood(s) and on the natural ecology for which the reserve was created can be addressed by the proper body. The result will likely be a much better plan after all of the “stakeholders” are properly informed and their concerns heard.

The days when the rich family on the hill called the shots for the whole community should have ended centuries ago. Democracy is a messy process. It works best when community consensus is built through systematic development of informed consent.

Turning Trump: Our Muscovian President

Following up on my posts nearly a year ago about The Muscovian Candidate, here are my recent “musings” on the possibility that Donald Trump is one of the “active measures,” активные мероприятия, cultivated by Russian intelligence agents to subvert US government policy. Much of the information about how Trump has been “played” or, if you prefer, “worked” by Russian agents since the 1980s has been gleaned from Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Harding digs up a lot of evidence that supports the dossier on Donald Trump compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

If you don’t read Collusion, you might want to catch Terry Gross’ NPR interview with Harding: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565654507/journalist-investigating-trump-and-russia-says-full-picture-is-one-of-collusion.

The Steele dossier is here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984/Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.pdf

Доверительная связь

Vladimir Kryuchkov.jpg

Vladimir Kryuchkov

Gen. Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov was head of foreign-intelligence gathering (1974-1988) and then under Mikhail Gorbachev, KGB chairman (1988–1991). Kryuchkov is credited with expanding Soviet foreign intelligence and bringing greater professionalism to Russian spycraft. He called for better use of special, unofficial and confidential contacts. “These should be acquired chiefly among prominent figures in politics and society, and important representatives of business and science.” These “special, unofficial and confidential contacts,” Доверительная связь, should supply valuable information but also “actively influence” their country’s foreign policy “in a direction of advantage to the USSR.”

Espionage depends on various levels of recruitment: Intelligence-gathering involves not only “agents” but also contacts who can be groomed to provide increasingly more valuable types of information. Over time, the ideal candidates can be cultivated to use their status to move information in the other direction, actively influencing opinion and policy in their own country that is favorable to Russia.

In 1984, Kryuchkov was concerned that, in spite of having expanded the cadre of foreign-intelligence agents four-fold to 12,000, the KGB was having little success in the US. He issued a series of classified memos suggesting creative ways to improve recruitment of “prominent figures in the West” who might be drawn “into some form of collaboration with us, as an agent, or confidential, special or unofficial contact.” He urged wider use of friendly (and more disciplined) intelligence services, like the Czech StBStátní bezpečnost, and East German Stasi, Staatssicherheitsdienst.

Kryuchkov developed a secret personality profile listing qualities case officers should look for: What was the likelihood that the “subject would come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)?” “Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject’s natural characteristics?” “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft…and exploitation of his position to enrich himself’” and any other information that would compromise the subject in his country.

Do these character traits seem familiar?

Donald Trump first came to the attention of Soviet agents in the late 1970s when he dated, then married Ivana Marie Zelníčková, a smart, good-looking, 28-year-old Czech skier and model. The StB had been keeping an eye on Ivana since as a teenager she left Zlin, her hometown in Moravia, with her ski instructor, George Syrovatka, with whom she was living when Trump met her in Montreal. In the early ’70s, Syrovatka had arranged Ivana’s marriage to Austrian real estate agent Alfred Winklemayr so she could get a Western passport to leave her homeland.

By the mid-’80s Trump was a sufficiently promising object of study to warrant an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow arranged by Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin ostensibly to explore a joint hotel venture.

Death Valley Days

Here are some panoramas of Death Valley; be sure to click on them to enlarge to full-screen for the full effect. Each has been stitched together for several shots:

Zabriskie Serenade, 1974–2011

 

Edge of the Dunes, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011

 

Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011                                                                                                                     Panamint Range, left; Grapevine & Funeral mountains of the Amargosa Range, right

Photographing Death Valley, 2011

Dust Storm, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2010

Presidential unravelings

 

I was not paying very close attention in the early ’70s to the shenanigans that eventually brought down the Nixon presidency, but recently I’ve been getting that déjà vu feeling. I recall that Watergate was named for the hotel that housed the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which Nixon’s “plumbers” burglarized. How long, I wondered, did it take for that attempt to influence the 1972 presidential election to catch up to Nixon and bring him down.

So, with the help of Mother Jones, I pulled together a timeline of the key events between the Watergate DNC break-in and Nixon’s resignation a little more than two years later:

Watergate Timeline:

Sept. 9, 1971 “Plumbers” Unit burglarizes Ellsberg’s shrink’s office.
June 17, 1972 Five men arrested bugging DNC’s Watergate headquarters
June–Sept., 1972 Washington Post reports various connections
Oct. 10, 1972 FBI establishes Watergate part of massive spying & sabotage by Nixon campaign
Nov. 11, 1972 Nixon reelected by a landslide
Jan. 30, 1973 Former Nixon aides Liddy & McCord + 5 others convicted in Watergate break-in
April 30, 1973 WH staff Haldeman, Ehrlichman, AG Kleindienst resign; counsel Dean, fired
May 18, 1973 Senate Watergate hearings begin, special prosecutor appointed
June-July more & more dirt dug up, revealed
Oct. 20, 1973 Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon fires spec. prosecutor, AG resigns
Nov. ’73–July, ’74 More dirt, Nixon won’t cooperate, Supremes order him to
July 27, 1974 Hs Jud. Comm. passes 1st of 3 articles of impeachment, for obstruction of justice
Aug. 8, 1974 Nixon resigns—2 yrs after DNC break-in, 22 mos. after the election he rigged

I have not made a point-by-point comparison with the current fiasco. The lines between legitimate campaign tactics and criminal intent seem even more blurred these days than in the days of Nixon’s “dirty tricks,” with fewer courageous Republicans willing to challenge the president.

The FBI has identified Russian attempts to swing the 2016 US presidential election. The intelligence community has identified several questionable and possibly unconstitutional contacts of members of Trump’s campaign with Russian officials dabbling in US foreign affairs prior to Trump’s being sworn in and possibly conspiring to swing the election itself.

How much did he know, and when did he know it? The kind of obfuscation we’ve been getting from the White House is reminiscent of Nixon’s and his staff’s stonewalling throughout the beginning of his second term, until his resignation nearly two years after his reelection.

The Muscovian Candidate

“When truth is gone, nothing is stable, and no one is safe.”
For several weeks, I’ve been toying with the notion of a wealthy international real estate tycoon coming under the influence of, say, a beautiful eastern-European model, whom he marries. She becomes integral to the magnate’s empire, an expert in the operations of his business…& his mind. As both a child of Stalinist Soviet society and a fashion model, she is familiar with manipulation of appearances and other stimuli to produce a programmed response. She teaches the tycoon well, & he rises to the highest levels of prominence in the land. After they divorce, she remains a trusted, invisible power behind the throne….

Then, recently, I came across this “Slate” article which explores “the psychology of the nationalized lie.” Here are a few excerpts:

“Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool.”

“When falsehood invades the highest offices in the land, it forces the population into a surreal doubleness where there are two sets of memories, two account books, two realities that must be contended with. This chokes those who want to operate through a legal framework, according to the rules, since the rules now apply to a fantasy; a complicated strategic triangulation is always necessary to produce a real result. Opponents have to struggle continually with cognitive dissonance.”

“A regime can work a population so that they don’t object to even the most bald-faced lie. There is no safety in numbers, even vast numbers, if no one speaks up.”

“This gives some idea of the costs that can be incurred when truth is inundated by falsehood. The parallels are useful both for understanding the psychology of the nationalized lie and for glimpsing a worst-case scenario. But the worst-case scenario is exactly that, as we should remember before plunging ourselves into sensationalist panic. Trump seems most interested in kleptocratic plundering, a model of misgovernment very different than the mass murder of Stalinism. On the other hand, it’s hard to precisely calibrate an appropriate sense of disaster when the president-elect’s campaign promises (soft truths, to be sure) include locking up and inciting violence against his opponents, and rounding up and deporting millions of Americans based on national origin or religion. In the barrage of untruths, no one can tell which whoppers Trump plans to make good on. His unreliability is for this reason seen as a plus by his most humane followers, who tell themselves he has lied about the bad parts. It is also one of the things that destabilizes resistance to him—either by the left or the right.”

The mainstream media and a sizable chunk of the general populace have been sucked in by Mr. Trump mind-fucking techniques. I’m glad, finally, to see some analysis of the psycho-social aspects of the Trump phenomenon.

Donald Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool. P …
SLATE.COM
Caitlin Gibson has done a Washington Post piece about Trump’s “Gaslighting”: a deliberate attempt to deceive someone into questioning their own perception of reality, i.e., mind-fucking.
The Post’s Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher have published Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. Kranish did an insightful Trump’s backgrounder, “A fierce will to win pushed Donald Trump to the top” & “Trump says he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ The past 30 years show otherwise.” Another Post article examines Trump’s various Russian connections in more detail: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.
On the advice of my financial advisor, with whom I raised an eyebrow about The Donald’s East European entanglements, I am reading Bill Browder’s Red Notice, which promises to detail how Putin and a few dozen oligarchs control Russia. Browder ran a very successful hedge fund that prospered by investing in the privatization of former Soviet economies. I’m hoping for insight into how Trump may have dealt with that system. Perhaps his tax returns, which rumor says will soon be (Wiki?)leaked, will have clues.