New Partnership Improves Wildlife Habitat and Enriches Lives

The Boise River Enhancement Network is thrilled to be a lead partner in a new and innovative project at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve. Nestled in a residential and commercial area in West Boise, the reserve is a hidden gem of nature. The series of ponds, wetlands and hillsides blend together to create a unique pocket of wildlife habitat in the center of urban Treasure Valley.

Reserve Entry sign
Photo by Ken Miracle

The reserve, managed by the City of Boise City Parks and Recreation and Public Works Departments, is guided by a 17-year-old community-generated Master Plan. Visitors can enjoy nature trails with benches, interpretive signs and there are restrooms and two parking areas. Community members and people from near and far use the reserve year-round, attracted by the rich bird life, the wide paths and the outstanding scenery.

BREN and the Land Trust of the Treasured Valley secured a grant to build on the past success of the reserve and improve the habitat and introduce new visitors to the site.  With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, and more than a dozen community partners, the 18-month ‘Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project’ (project) is an innovative initiative that’s already generating enthusiasm.

Bird-friendly, fire-resistant vegetation will replace the weeds on hillsides at this popular walking and birding destination and the partnership will provide new residents from many nations the opportunity to visit the urban reserve and participate in habitat stewardship activities. The goal is for community members of all backgrounds to develop a connection to this unique outdoor space.

“One of the great things about living in the Treasure Valley is enjoying nature close to home,” said Tim Breuer, Project manager and Executive Director of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley. “This new initiative is meant to improve habitat and introduce new residents to these special places.”

Visitors use bird checklist
Lisa Harloe assists visitors with their bird checklist

On October 17, 2017 BREN Coordinating Team members Lisa Harloe and Heidi Ware were part of a team of project partners that helped 40 students from the English Language Center (ELC) explore the reserve. The ELC is a skill development center for adult refugees who recently arrived in Idaho, and it was the first time to the reserve for all of them.

ELC instructor Steve Rainey said, “Connecting with nature is healing, and a group trip is a great way to discover this public park. Now the students can go to the reserve with their families and, if they want, there will be opportunities for them to work side-by-side with other volunteers to take care of this welcoming place.”

Qaiser birding     Birding

Qaiser (left) and the other visitors saw many of the birds that live at the reserve including American coots, Pied-billed grebes, and Red-winged blackbirds.

Debris removed

Volunteers from many organizations have already started removing debris to prepare the reserve for plantings next year. City of Boise Open Space Restoration Specialist Martha Brabec is drafting the Hyatt Habitat Enhancement Plan with help from volunteer habitat experts, including BREN Coordinating Team members Tamsen Binggeli and Lisa Harloe and BREN volunteers Roger Rosentreter and Alan Crockett. The City of Boise actively encourages community stewardship of its reserves and seeks to expand and diversify its capacity.

Heidi, Kristin, Tim      lunch volunteers

(left) BREN CT member Heidi Ware, Boise Watershed and BREN volunteer Kristin Gnojewski, and LTTV Executive Director Tim Breuer. (right) BREN volunteers David Monsees, Caroline Morris and Jeanette Ross served up a great lunch for everyone at the reserve on Oct. 17

“Public volunteers play a key role in wildlife habitat conservation in urban areas and being a conservation volunteer enriches their lives,” said project partner Ally Turner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, “This exciting project will introduce newly arrived residents to the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve and to the rewarding experience of working with others to protect the places we love.”

The project is led by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Boise River Enhancement Network, and the City of Boise. Project partners include U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Office of Refugees by Jannus, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, The Wetlands Group, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, and Partners for Clean Water.