Idaho Smart Growth is turning 20!

Published by Volunteer on

Boise Headwaters, Frederick Evan Choate

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter in Idaho and we are already thinking ahead to next year! The year 2020 is the twentieth anniversary of ISG’s founding as an independent organization. It has been an impressive run—we have accomplished a lot in two decades. We couldn’t have done it without member support. We know that our members care about building healthy communities in Idaho and the role of this organization in that work. Thank you!

The need for Idaho Smart Growth has only increased in those 20 years. Here’s some perspective: since 2000, Idaho’s population has grown by over 35%, among the fastest rates in the country. The impact of that growth is acutely felt in Idaho, where more than 70% of the land is publicly owned. We’re a big state, but we have a relatively small space to put new people.

More people can be good for our economy when we plan adequately for the cost of providing services but with that growth brings inequities, especially when it comes to housing affordability. Idaho’s median home value has skyrocketed 73% (in 2019 dollars) since 2000, yet in the same period our median household income has only risen 4.5% in 2019 dollars. That means the people making a living in Idaho are getting priced out —especially in the cities, where most of the growth is occurring.

It’s not just an Idaho problem, of course, and in fact many people are moving here from places that are far less affordable. But the impact of growth is especially noticeable in Idaho, where we value working lands, natural beauty and a high quality of life.

As growth and development pressures threaten what we love most about Idaho, the importance of ISG’s work only increases. There are no easy solutions, and Idaho Smart Growth is one of the few organizations bringing people together to find solutions at the community level. While decisions about how we grow and get around become increasingly complex, there’s a crucial need for a balanced and informed organization to partner with communities to navigate those decisions.

For 20 years ISG has been that organization.

In the coming year we plan to ask you to help us chart our course for the next 20 years for the greatest impact. We hope you will be a part of that strategic planning, and we’ll be reaching out for your input.

In the meantime, we have a request for you. As 2019 draws to a close, we want to ask you to consider a special end-of-year gift to help position the organization to be more successful in the years to come.

Think about joining acclaimed Boise artist Fred Choate and become a major donor. Fred recently donated his painting “Boise Headwaters” to ISG to help us build up our base of support. Fred told us this image is of the Middle Fork of the Boise River, just upstream from the city of Boise. It captures the beauty of Idaho and symbolizes much of what we cherish about this state. It also reminds us that scenes like this can’t be taken for granted. We need constant effort to protect what we have, and to make sure Idaho can be a place our children will want to call home.

You can help us keep at it for the next 20 years.

Please help us continue this work. To learn more about ISG and how you can support us, view upcoming events, browse resources and contribute on our secure online donations portal. Or you can always call or visit—we’d love to catch up and talk about the next 20 years!

Stay connected–we have a lot going on in the coming year. In addition to strategic planning, we hope to strengthen our work on safe routes for all, community wildfire planning and technical assistance, as well as expanding our signature programs like the Grow Smart Awards and Citizens Planning Academy.

And sometime in the next year we will give away Fred’s beautiful painting to a lucky friend of Idaho Smart Growth! Stay tuned for details. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by our office to say hello and look at the painting in person.

As always, thank you for your support! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.


Scot Oliver

Executive Director