Cooperatove Conservation Project

Indian Creek Restoration/City Center Revitalization

Community Restores Creek to Rejuvenate Downtown

Location: Far West Region: Idaho

Project Summary: Caldwell’s downtown revitalization plan uses restoration of Indian Creek as the catalyst for a sustainable community with ecological integrity and economic vitality.
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Wetlands theme metal sculpture dedicated at the first annual Indian Creek Festival. (PHOTO BY JAN BOLES)
Resource Challenge

From its source in the Boise foothills, Indian Creek meanders through farmland, residential, and industrial areas before it enters downtown Caldwell, Idaho, where it joins the Boise River. Early settlers established Caldwell near the Oregon Trail where it became Idaho’s first major city. As Caldwell grew, it buried Indian Creek beneath asphalt and concrete.

Eventually, the once-bustling downtown fell victim to retail centers and shopping malls. Faced with a blighted downtown, volunteers and business leaders developed a plan to restore the downtown. The core of the plan is to "daylight" Indian Creek, allowing it to flow free, and creating six acres of new green space. The creek will be a magnet for residents and visitors, creating an appealing environment to live, work, and play. A trail and pathway system will connect outlying areas to the downtown core.

The city is teaming with numerous local groups, citizens, non-profits, State and Federal agencies. The city has discovered the domino effect of partnerships: each new partner brings more partners to the table, enriching the project, building community connections, and engaging new audiences. 

Examples of Key Partners

City of Caldwell; Key Agencies: US Army Corps of Engineers; USDI National Park Service; US Department of Commerce—Economic Development Administration; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Idaho Departments of Environmental Quality, Transportation, Fish and Game, and Water Resources; Albertson College of Idaho; and many other local, state, and national organizations.

Results and Accomplishments

Highlights include:

  • Selected as a Preserve America Community by Laura Bush.
  • Established a core area steering committee and hired redevelopment coordinator.
  • Completed a creek restoration feasibility study with US Army Corps of Engineers assistance; design is underway.
  • Developed a citywide trail system paralleling the creek and connecting downtown to the Boise River, schools, and parks. The National Park Service assisted.
  • Formed the Economic Development Administration partnership to create a redevelopment strategic plan.
  • Conducting petroleum pollutant assessments in the urban renewal district through the Brownfields program.
  • Partnered with the Idaho Transportation Department and the Idaho Department of Commerce to rehabilitate the historic downtown train depot, which has been selected as an Artrain USA scheduled stop for 2006.
  • Created a "wetlands theme" metal sculpture for a pedestrian bridge, completed by welding students.
  • Published English and Spanish versions of a book written by Albertson College students about the history of the creek.
  • Completing a demonstration for creek restoration.
  • Began annual Indian Creek Festival celebrations and Earth Day cleanups in 2002.

A broad-based partnership helps a community achieve its vision of environmental and economic sustainability.

Project Contact
Dennis Cannon
Caldwell Redevelopment Coordinator
City of Caldwell



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