A section of the city of Boise's beloved Greenbelt has been named in honor of Bethine Church. The 1.6-mile section of pathway on the Boise River which extends from the Cottonwood Apartments off ParkCenter Boulevard to the new East Parkcenter Bridge on the south side of the river is located in a 24-acre natural area, which includes valuable riparian vegetation, wildlife nesting spots and several small irrigation canals that have been transformed into streams inhabited by fish. It is one of the riverside parks in the "Ribbon of Jewels" named for prominent local women.
The pathway remains unpaved to create a tranquil area for walking and running. Benches overlooking the river provide seating for rest and reflection in a beautiful setting. The thoughtful preservation of this section of the Greenbelt has proven to be critical for the protection of wildlife habitat; it is truly fitting that this pathway be named after Bethine Church in recognition of her important efforts to conserve and protect public lands.
Bethine Church passed away at the age of 90 on December 21, 2013. Church's contributions to wildlife and conservation efforts in the state were numerous. Church founded and chaired the Sawtooth Society, which successfully lobbied for funds to protect the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The society also worked to fund Forest Service projects such as trails and infrastructure, helped to guarantee the survival of the SNRA wilderness area for generations to come. She continued to work with Rep. Mike Simpson for passage of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) legislation to protect the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness.
The late Church chaired the Frank Church Institute, which brought national speakers including President Gerald Ford and former Vice Presidents Al Gore and Walter Mondale to Boise at her invitation. Under her leadership, the institute has raised a $1 million endowment to fund the conferences, the Frank and Bethine Church Professor, and scholarships at Boise State University.
In the fall of 2009, Church received the Bob Marshall Award from the National Governing Council of the Wilderness Society. The award was named for the founder of the Wilderness Society, of which she was a member.