Barber Park Habitat Enhancement Project Part One

Read more and see photos in Part 2.

Feb. 18 Media Release – Ada County

Invasive Trees Being Removed from Barber Park  

 Russian Olive, Siberian Elms and Callery Pear targeted for removal  

BOISE – Russian Olives, Siberian Elms and Callery Pear trees sound beautiful and exotic but they can wreak havoc on important ecosystems along the Boise River. Thanks to a generous donation from the Golden Eagle Audubon Society (GEAS) Ada County Parks & Waterways Department in collaboration with Ada County Weed, Pest, and Mosquito Abatement, the Boise River Enhancement Network (BREN), and GEAS will be removing invasive trees in Barber Park Tuesday through Thursday of this week.

“This work will help improve wildlife habitat for more than 150 bird species in this designated ‘Important Bird Area’ along the Boise River corridor. Restoring habitats for birds and other wildlife is part of our mission at Golden Eagle Audubon society and we are proud to partner with Ada County in this collaborative effort.”

In particular, Russian olives — first introduced from Eurasia in the early 1900s — are targeted for cutting and stump treatment due to their ongoing invasion within Barber Park’s black cottonwood forest and riparian areas.  These highly invasive trees snuff out desirable vegetation and ‘keystone’ tree species while providing marginal habitat benefits for migratory birds and other resident animals.  Black cottonwoods and willows, on the other hand, are native to the Treasure Valley and considered critical to the riparian ecosystem along the Boise River but cannot regenerate effectively under the dense canopy of Russian Olives.  Other invasive tree species such has Siberian elms and Callery pear have also been targeted for removal within Barber Park.

“This is a great way to save taxpayer dollars,” said Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo.
“I am so thankful for the Golden Eagle Audubon Society’s willingness to ‘walk the walk’ on this issue. Invasive species can do so much damage to areas of this valley we treasure. It is also heartening to see our county departments stepping in to make sure the process is done safely and effectively.”

The Golden Eagle Audubon Society has contributed funding to hire a tree service contractor to fell invasive trees that have been flagged for removal by GEAS board member Alan Crockett and confirmed by Ada County Parks & Waterways.  Ada County Weed, Pest, and Mosquito Abatement will be providing licensed and certified applicators to immediately treat fresh cut stumps to minimize the potential for regeneration.

Staff and volunteers from the various organizations will be available for media interviews between 10am-12pm on Wednesday, 2/19.  Media contact: Scott Koberg, Ada County Parks & Waterways Director (208) 860-9913 or”

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BREN and Golden Eagle Audubon Society Statement of Support and Fact Sheet

Golden Eagle Audubon Society,, and the Boise River Enhancement Network,, applaud Ada County Parks and Waterways for reducing the presence of undesirable, non-native trees in Barber Park to improve bird, fish and wildlife habitat.

In an exceptional partnership, Golden Eagle Audubon Society (GEAS) donated funds to Ada County Parks and Waterways to help pay for the professional sawyers who will be removing the trees.  The project was inspired by GEAS Board Member Alan Crockett. GEAS volunteers helped identify the targeted trees.

Liz Urban, Golden Eagle Audubon Society President said, “Golden Eagle Audubon Society is proud to financially support removal of invasive trees from the Barber Park area. This work will help improve wildlife habitat for more than 150 bird species in this designated ‘Important Bird Area’ along the Boise River corridor. Restoring habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife is part of our mission at GEAS and we are glad to be a partner in this collaborative effort.”

Conservation and protection of high-quality wetland and riparian areas, like what’s found in much of Barber Park, is a priority for the Boise River Enhancement Network. “Barber Park has been protected from development, but zoning doesn’t stop non-native species from invading park land and crowding out native plants. This project is the first to target a large area of non-native trees, and we hope it will encourage public and private landowners all the way to Parma to protect the native plants that are vital to the Boise River,” said Liz Paul, Boise River Enhancement Network coordinator.

Golden Eagle Audubon Society is Southwest Idaho’s chapter of the National Audubon Society, based in Boise, Idaho. GEAS is dedicated to building an understanding, appreciation, and respect for the natural world in order to conserve and restore natural ecosystems for birds and other wildlife.

The Boise River Enhancement Network (BREN) is a multi-stakeholder cooperative watershed group that aggregates knowledge and resources to support enhancement of the Lower Boise River.

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Invasive Trees in Barber Park FAQ

Question:  What is an invasive tree?
Answer: a tree spreading aggressively outside of its normal range.

Question:  What trees in Barber Park are invasive?
Answer:  Invasive trees include the exotics: Russian olive, Siberian elm, callery pear; and non-natives: northern catalpa, black locust, silver maple, and rock elm.

Question:  What is bad about invasive trees?
Answer:  Invasive trees crowd out native plants, robbing them of the water, sunlight and space they need to grow. This may impact the population of birds, fish and wildlife in the area. For example, some exotic trees host few native insects. Without food, songbirds cannot raise their young and they leave for better habitat.  Aquatic insects don’t like the leaves of invasive trees that fall in the water, and this means less food for Boise River fish.

Question:  What trees will be removed from Barber Park?
Answer:  Mainly Russian olive trees but probably some Siberian elms and callery pears.

Question: What is wrong with Russian olive trees?
Answer:  Russian olive trees grow very big and native black cottonwood trees can’t grow in their shade. Eventually Russian olive trees replace the black cottonwood trees. Native insects have evolved to depend on native trees and shrubs like black cottonwood and willow; they don’t eat Russian olive tree leaves. There are far fewer insects when there are more Russian olive trees. This drives down the bird and fish population because of lack of food. The “olives” are not very nutritious for wildlife. Russian olive trees  grow very densely and have huge thorns.

Question:  If you cut them down, won’t they grow back?
Answer:  Most invasive trees will try to grow back after being cut, unless the stump is painted with a herbicide to prevent sprouting. Some seeds will grow and there may be some sprouts so workers will have to remove them in future years.

Question:  What will happen if a bird is living in a tree that will cut down?
Answer:  This effort to remove invasive plants has been carefully timed to avoid disturbance to nesting birds in spring. Open ground that remains after tree removal will be closely watched to be sure it fills with desirable plant species beneficial to birds and other wildlife.