Article courtesy of Conservation the Idaho Way, a publication of the Idaho Soil & Water Conservation Commission. Originally published Feb. 2020; authored by Steve Stuebner. Reprinted in the Blue Review.
The cities of Boise, Meridian and the Treasure Valley are in high-growth mode at a time when the economy is roaring, and Boise is frequently landing on the Forbes Top 10 best-places-to-live list, best place to retire, best place to enjoy outdoor recreation or even the best place to avoid government regulation.
Growth can be good for jobs and the economy, but it also can put additional stress on community resources – things like schools, roads, housing, etc. Another impact caused by growth in the Treasure Valley is we’re losing valuable farmland.
A Boise State University study recently concluded that if the current rate of growth continues, about half of the remaining farmland in the Treasure Valley, or about 200,000 acres of farm ground, will be lost forever by 2100. The valley currently has 387,320 acres of farmland. Looking back, from 1969 to 2012, Ada and Canyon counties lost about 30 percent of their farm acreage, while the state lost 18 percent over the same time period.
By 2100, the Community Planning Association estimates that the 1.25 million to 1.75 million people will live in the Treasure Valley.
“We have a long history of losing our farms to urban development, and it’s continuing today all across the eastern United States, and now we can see it in cities and towns in the great West,” said Mike McGrath, who helped develop a farmland preservation program for the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
“We have to do something,” said Brad McIntyre, of McIntyre Family Farms in Canyon County. “It’s inevitable that as our population grows, the housing has to go somewhere.”
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