Steps to Sustainability

Boise Parks & Recreation seeks to be a leader in sustainability by adopting measures to protect water resources, install drought-tolerant plants, minimize unnecessary vehicle trips, plant more trees and take other meaningful steps to protect our environment. 

FederalwayFederal Way Right of Way

  • The landscaping in the rights of way on Federal Way (and Parkcenter Blvd) feature a mix of stabilized soil and tree mulch. The stabilized soil is porous and allows water to percolate through it but prevents weeds from growing. The mulch is from trees removed (and recycled) from parks. A new irrigation system was installed with a combination of drip irrigation and bubblers. The bubblers are deep-root watering systems that water the trees underground at the roots.

VistaI-84/Vista Interchange

  • Irrigation for the drought-tolerant landscaping at the Vista/I84 interchange right of way features driwater, a time-release irrigation system ( The canisters look like old steel cans but in fact they contain a gel pak which is composed of 97.6% water (the rest is cellulose gum, a food-grade product). The canisters are “planted” near sagebrush and grasses interspersed with boulders.

Greenbelt Riparian Expansion

  • stakesThe riparian area along the Greenbelt in Ann Morrison, Julia Davis and Municipal parks is being expanded.  Tree stakes designate the new zone. The purpose of the stakes is to provide a guide for a staff (particularly mowers) until the areas established and they will be removed.  The intent is to provide additional wildlife habitat and ability to filter runoff to the river. Reduced mowing will also equate to increased air quality. 

Weather Station

  • WeatherData collected by the weather station is fed to our Maxicom Central Control irrigation system to help manage irrigation water at 60 sites. The Maxicom system is an ET (Evapotranspiration) based central control system.  The weather data collected from the weather station is used to determine the amount of water that is needed to replace that used by the plants and lost through evaporation. Therefore, conserving water and maximizing efficiency of watering. 

Be Idle Free Signs

  • BeidleBe on the lookout for these signs coming soon in some of our parks!  Be Idle Free Boise is a community effort to educate residents about how vehicle emissions contribute to our air quality and health problems. Learn more: 


Stewart Gulch Playground

  • playgroundstewart.jpgDid you know that the playground surface at Stewart Gulch Park is made from recycled materials? The playground was designed to complement the Foothills environment. Play features include natural-colored climbing boulders and treehouse-themed play equipment for 2-5 and 5-12 year olds.




Ann Morrison Flag Pole Solar Light

  • A solar light has been installed on top of the flag pole at Ann Morrison. It charges during the day in the sunlight and lights the flag at night.


 h20fillingstationWater Bottle Fill Station

  • Several of our City buildings have these new water bottle fill stations. You can find them at our Administration Office and Fort Boise Community Center. They are quick, clean and green! Elkay's EZH2O bottle filling stations provide convenient hydration with a rapid fill of filtered water to quench thirst and minimize plastic bottle waste in the environment!

bank stabilization projectBank Stablization Project

  • Bank stabilization project completed along the Greenbelt. The erosion was reported by a citizen and was located behind the West Boise Waste Water Treatment Plant – a job well done in short order!


boise depot meeting stationEnergy Efficient Workspaces

  • Rebuilt east side of the Boise Depot meeting room doors with mahogany wood to reduce draft. Added new energy efficient windows and more insulation around doors. 


Baggley Park Irrigation Upgrades

  • Baggley ParkStaff completed installation of 540 feet of mainline at Baggley Park to improve pressures and allow more efficient irrigation.





Helen B. Lowder Park Tennis Courts

Tennis Court Replacement 

  • Replacing asphalt tennis courts with concrete courts. Lifespan of concrete is 3x longer & better play surface for users.




Milwaukee Park Pump

  • There is a new pump station at Milwaukee Park. The new station allows Boise Parks & Recreation to irrigate with canal water rather than potable water, lowering our power and water consumption. Will save approximately $14,000/year in water costs and the new pump is much more energy efficient compared to older model.

Propane Mower Conversion

  • PropaneBoise Parks and Recreation is looking to propane as an alternative fuel source for some mowing equipment. This spring the department converted one of our 48” walk behind mowers from gasoline to propane, if successful additional units may be converted in the future. Two reasons for making the conversion are environmental benefits and potential cost savings.  It is believed that propane-fueled mowers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50% compared to gasoline, and provide an 80% reduction in carbon monoxide when compared to gasoline.  While fuel savings are difficult to realize with one unit, as more are added savings will become tangible. So far the conversion has proven successful with operators reporting no difference in the operation of the mower and shop mechanics providing positive reviews. One potential future challenge is propane tank storage.

Willow Lane Wetlands

  • WillowlaneThe Willow Lane wetlands project was planted Spring 2012. In partnership with Boise Parks & Recreation, The Wetlands Group (TWG) has been monitoring the area since construction was completed and has noted high rates of growth of desirable plants such as grasses, willows and cotton woods both from plantings and natural regeneration.  TWG has done selective weeding -- primarily goatheads -- and has re-seeded areas with low germination rates.  As part of the Army Corps of Engineers permit, TWG will continue to monitor the site 5+ years.  The project is considered a success to this point with visible plant communities, including black cottonwoods , willows, and grasses.



  • Have you seen one of these pop up at your local park?  If so, they are called syber-cans.  They are one example of the Department’s sustainability initiatives. Each can has a 300 gallon liner, because of gravity compaction over time each can will service 600 gallons of trash!  Estimated cost savings is $400/year!


  • MulchMulching is an important way to protect and maintain healthy landscaped plants, shrubs and flowers. It makes soil richer, helps prevent weeds, holds moisture and protects soil from erosion. Landscape mulch is available for $15 per cubic yard from Boise Community Forestry, 4969 Dorman St., (off Gowen Road near the Idaho Humane Society). Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted. Please call in advance from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. so we can arrange to help you with loading!

Baseline Irrigation at Charles F. McDevitt Park

  • baseline irrBaseline makes soil moisture sensors and various two wire sprinkler components.  Boise Parks & Recreation installed their system at Charles F. McDevitt as a test site. The soil sensors did a great job measuring the moisture content of the grass and telling the sprinklers when to water. This in turn has kept the fields from being too wet for the little league games and conserving water! 

Comba Park Playground

  • comba playgroundThe colorful, non-traditional play equipment is suitable for spinning, bouncing and climbing. Designed for ages 2-12, the playground features a spinning net climber and 9-foot climbing boxes. Sustainable features include artificial “turf” material under the play equipment, large mulch areas, Trex composite-wood benches and trash can holders, and a water-efficient irrigation system. 

Boise Depot

  • Parks staff have been making efficiency improvements at the Depot over the last 4 years and continued doing so during the Kilowatt Crackdown. 
  • Depot PicThe Boise Depot has seen nearly a 20% decrease in energy consumption because of these changes. Improvements include converting interior fluorescent lights to more efficient T-8 bulbs, replacing and insulating the east end wall and doors, installing door sweeps, policies on air conditioner and furnace use, converting outside lighting to LEDs, installing ceiling fans in the Great Hall, changing the outside spotlights from 400 watts to highefficiency 250-watt bulbs. These savings amount to an Boise Train Depot estimated $4000 a year and will continue to increase due to recent additional lighting changes. 

Sustainable Maint Pract Photo


  • This spring, Parks Division staff started using a bicycle with trailer to perform maintenance in Kathryn Albertson Park. The bicycles will supplement and/or replace existing gas fueled utility vehicles and reduce carbon emission, use of fossil fuels, improve air quality and extend the life and reduce repair cost associated with the existing utility vehicles. In addition, staff will gain health benefits from riding bicycles around work locations.


Geothermal heating at the Natatorium 

  • A sustainable energy project will enable the Department to use natural geothermal water to heat 3 pools and domestic water for hand-washing and showers at The Natatorium. The geothermal project will reduce maintenance required to operate the antiquated boilers as well as reduce the emission of toxic gases.


 PlanterbedsAdministration Building Plantings

  • For the planter beds, the department wanted lots of color without having to plant every year, so annuals were replaced by perennials and flowering shrubs that require only 1 inch of water a week or less. Euonymus was chosen for color all year round, Honeysuckle on the fence to provide greenery and cover on the fence with a sweet scent as individuals walk in the door. All of the plants are low maintenance, only requiring pruning one time a year. 

Ann Morrison Park Irrigation Upgrades:

  • AMStaff completed installation of new irrigation in Ann Morrison Park along the Greenbelt to improve the quality of turf and reduce watering needs. 


Community Forestry Unit 

  • Fall Street In BoiseThe Community Forestry Unit of Boise Parks & Recreation Department manages about 45,000 public trees in parks, on public right of way and in riparian areas along the Boise River. 



Fort Boise Drip Irrigation

  • fort boise community gardenStaff converted a zone at Fort Boise Community Center near the tennis courts to an efficient drip system for the new ADA Community Garden. 


Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center 


  • 27142 FoothillsimageJim Hall Foothills Learning Center was built with conservation & sustainability in mind! Just a few: an active solar system of photo-voltaic cells, zoned thermostats and landscaping with native and drought-tolerant plants.


Parks in the floodplain-protecting our community and our River (Boise River Enhancement Network Article)

  • Development of Esther Simplot Park will help a community reduce flood risk to property and protect river water from pollution.

2014 Annual Water Report

  • Report details water consumption comparison from 2012, 2013 and 2014.  Also details efficient practices, projects and improvements for the future.

Water Conservation

  • Metering faucets are utilized for all new and remodeled restroom sinks. Metering faucets are set to run for a specific amount of time and automatically shut off to eliminate the possibility of being left on or continuing to drip.

Warm Springs Park Wetlands

  • Urban wetlands provide visitors with the unique opportunity to observe plants and wildlife in their natural surroundings and habitat. Aquatic plants, trees, birds, fish, frogs, insects and mammals - all make their homes in urban wetlands.Urban wetlands also help to enhance water quality by removing pollutants from stormwater and providing temporary storage of runoff water that can lessen impacts of localized flooding. Learn more here:

Sport Fields Paint

  • Switched to an environmental friendly-free VOC striping paint approved by the EPA for use on sports fields.      

Cloverdale/Ustick Project

  • A project to install drought-tolerant plants, landscaping boulders and an efficient drip irrigation system is near completion at the intersection of Cloverdale and Ustick in West Boise. The $43,000 project, which is funded by the City of Boise, is scheduled to be completed by mid-September. Clearwater Landscape is the contractor. The drip irrigation system will conserve water and help to reduce weeds by applying water at the base of the plant --rather than watering the entire area, according to Project Manager Toby Norton. 

 Fort Boise Park Field Lights

  • At Fort Boise Park, softball fields #1 and #2, aging ballfield lights were replaced with modern energy efficient lights produced by Musco Lighting. These "Green fixtures" use less power with less spillage and a 25-year warrantee.

Leaf Recycling

  • Leaves collected from parks are composted at the Idaho Botanical Garden then used to build up soil in park planting beds.

Water Conservation 

  • Most of our restroom facilities have been upgraded with toilets flushing 3.5 gallons of water per flush replacing older models that used 5 to 6 gallons of water per a flush. Saving water, one flush at a time!

Tree Walks

  • Boise Community Forestry provides a series of self-guided tree walks, for citizens to use to learn about the variety of trees in Boise's Morris Hill, Ann Morrison and Julia Davis Parks.

Playground Fall Zone Material

  • Installed new playground fall zone material (engineered wood fiber vs wood mulch) at select parks: provides better access to play equipment while reducing maintenance, fuel costs for transport and staff time to rake.

Energy Efficient Workspaces

  • Timers have been placed on light switches within our work shops to ensure lights are not left on all day, minimize use of power.

Capitol Boulevard Landscape Renovations

  • A facelift of two Capitol Boulevard median “triangles” near the Boise Depot will showcase colorful new trees and plants while reducing water consumption. Drought-tolerant grasses, flowering trees and a low-water drip irrigation system are being installed at triangle-shaped medians at the Capitol Boulevard intersections with Crescent Rim and Federal Way.

Laura Moore Cunnigham Arboretum Upgrades 

  • Converted the irrigation system at Laura Moore Cunningham Arboretum to drip irrigation at each tree. 

Street trees grow healthier downtown with new silva cell planter system 

  • Trees need soil to grow big and healthy. That’s why the City of Boise’s Community Forestry Unit is working with Deeproot to create a special rooting environment with silva cells. 

    Silva cells are an open crate-like system that is designed to support a sidewalk, but is filled with soil to create more space for tree roots and a place to direct stormwater. 

    The new planter system has been installed along Sixth Street and Idaho adjacent to City Hall.

Mowing Equipment

  • Mowing equipment is purchased with recycling capabilities to return clippings back to the soil, which in turn helps add organic material, and reduces fertilizer requirements and irrigation requirements.

Administration Bicycle

  • The main office has a bicycle that staff may use to go between park locations instead of using a vehicle.