Why Do Beavers Eat Willows?

Have you ever heard of a beaver with a headache? Probably not. Beavers eat willow plants that contain the active ingredient in aspirin. And they don’t have to worry about child-proof caps.

You can learn about the medicinal and traditional uses of many plants that grow at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve at the Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project Open House on March 7 from 5:30-7:30 at the Boise Watershed, 11818 W Joplin, Boise 83714.

Roger Rosentreter Photo courtesy of Riverside Hotel

Plant ecologist, teacher and author Roger Rosentreter Ph. D will share his ethnobotanical knowledge of Idaho’s native plants. Martha Brabec, City of Boise Open Space Restoration Specialist will talk about invasive plants at the reserve and the ongoing control strategies.  BREN volunteer Conner Jackson will explain why Russian olive trees are being removed. Eric Willadsen of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley will provide an update on the Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project including upcoming opportunities to be part of this cooperative effort. The presentations start at 6:00 pm.

Before and after the presentations, you can visit with representatives from the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho Firewise, Community Native Plant Nursery, Boise River Enhancement Network and more. The educational exhibits at the Boise WaterShed will be open for the kids to enjoy during the open house.

Community Members Grow Native Plants for the Reserve

With spring right around the corner, Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project partners are preparing to transplant native plant seedlings from germination trays into cones for the summer growing season. Over the past three months, volunteers planted more than 50 germination trays with seeds gathered from the reserve and other Treasure Valley locations. Members of Girl Scout Troop 105 pictured below are growing two trays from seeds they planted in January. Those plants will find a new home in the reserve next fall.

      

Weeds Warriors Comes to Hyatt Reserve

The battle to control weeds at the reserve begins anew in the spring, and this year Weed Warriors will be trained to tackle the task. Weed Warriors are specially-trained volunteers who adopt specific areas to pull weeds on a regular basis.  According to Martha Brabec, Weed Warriors made a difference in the foothills in 2017, and she’s excited to provide a training specifically for the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve on April 25. Field trips to the reserve for new residents from many nations and others will also be on the project schedule for the spring when migrating birds are at the reserve.

Improving Habitat and Enriching Lives Together

Seedling planted by volunteers at Hyatt Reserve. Photo by Art Robertson.

The Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project is led by the Land Trust of the Treasure ValleyBoise 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. The goals of the project are to establish bird-friendly, fire-resistant vegetation on hillsides at the reserve and help community members of all backgrounds connect to this unique outdoor space.

Russian Olive Trees at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve

By Conner Jackson

A walk through the city of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in the middle of the winter is a great time to see plants in their dormant phase. Especially easy to pick out in the winter at Hyatt is the Russian olive– a non-native small tree or shrub that grows in abundance on the shores of each of the lakes.  If you’re a frequent visitor to the reserve, you’ll easily note the spread of Russian olives over the past decade.The City’s embarking on an ambitious plan to reduce the Russian olive population at the reserve, a plan that will improve bird habitat at the reserve.

Russian olive trees at Hyatt Reserve. Photo by Conner Jackson.

Russian olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia., is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to southern Europe and Asia. It has thin, silvery-gray leaves and reddish bark that is commonly covered in sharp thorns. They can grow up to 45 feet tall.

Russian olive trees have nasty thorns. Photo by Conner Jackson.

 

 

 

Right now, the leaves of Russian olives have fallen, but in the springtime, the trees will leaf out and produce yellow flowers and small, oval shaped fruits. Those fruits will likely be eaten birds and other animals in the reserve when they are fully ripened in the fall.

Russian olive trees are very capable plants that have spread widely since their introduction. They can tolerate infrequent fire, browsing, temporary flooding, and mechanical cutting.  Russian olive can grow from seeds dispersed by wildlife, stump sprouts, stem cuttings, and root pieces. They were planted across North America since the early 1900s for windbreaks, erosion control, and to provide food and cover for wildlife. Russian olive trees are found extensively in wet-saline and riparian environments, including Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve.

The problem is the Russian olive is too capable. The trees are quick to displace native species such as willows and cottonwoods by outcompeting them for resources, including access to sunlight and water.  The Russian olive is a poor replacement for the native plants. Aside from their fruit Russian olive trees are not edible by birds and wildlife found in in the Boise River watershed.  They can crowd out other plant species that provide great habitat for wildlife.

Herbicide applied to the stumps prevents regrowth.

Volunteers removed Russian olive trees in November 2017.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

The City of Boise, as part of a reserve habitat improvement project, is removing Russian olive trees. Both City Forestry crews and volunteers, including BREN members, are involved. The goal is to prevent Russian olive trees from completely crowding out desired native species. Trees of all sizes are being removed and stumps are being treated with herbicide so they don’t re-sprout. Vegetation is so dense around the lakes, that open spaces created by Russian olive removal are expected to be quickly filled by native plants. Not every Russian olive tree will be removed to preserve aesthetics and the buffer between Maple Grove Rd. and the reserve.

Learn more about BREN’s cooperative Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Habitat Enhancement Project. Join BREN, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and City of Boise for a Hyatt Reserve Open House where you’ll hear from Conner and others.

The Power of Cover Crops

By Jessica Harrold, Ada Soil &  Water Conservation District

Agriculture is big business in the Treasure Valley. Area farmers produce a wide variety of crops including hops, award-winning wines, onions, mint and the great Idaho sugar beet. While the sunny climate and availability of irrigation water contributes to the bountiful harvest, the quality of the soil is paramount. Protection and improvement of the soil has captured the attention of organizations around the Treasure Valley, and they’re working with area farmers to study soil health and implement best management practices.

Side by Side Fields Were Studied

One study focused on the use of cover crops. Cover crops can prevent erosion and increase organic matter in the soil, improving water infiltration rates and sequestering carbon. Using Conservation Innovation Grant funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Ada Soil & Water Conservation District (Ada SWCD) followed three local producers as they integrated new planting methods and cover crops into their farm management plans. The study monitored erosion rates, soil health, and costs/profits.

Conventionally tilled and planted fields were compared to fields where seeds were planted with a no-till drill that eliminates soil disturbance. The no-till fields showed reduced rates of erosion and reduced phosphorus output, having a direct benefit on water quality in the Snake River. The no-till fields also had a higher water infiltration rate with a corresponding reduction in dry areas.

Each no-tilled field also showed improved soil health; the percent of organic material increased. The no-till plots required less tractor work that saved fuel and time. The producers were also able to use less fertilizer. This all added up to cost savings. In the case of grazing, using cover crops in place of winter feed saved farmers hay costs and time while improving their soil for the next year’s crop. Two short videos about the study can be viewed here.

Local Soil Health Projects

The Ada SWCD has also implemented a grant program to support local soil protection and improvement projects. Two grants have recently been awarded. The Treasure Valley Food Coalition soil education project is teaming with universities to offer programs to students and the public. The spring programs focus on soil structure and the reliance we have on healthy soil. Fall programs will focus on the mycorrhizae in the soil and how to help them flourish.

Horses for Clean Water is partnering with the Idaho Equine Hospital to offer courses that focus on animal and pasture health. They focus on proper land management, including mud and manure management, proper grazing, and land stewardship to protect the natural resources around your property.

Read more about soil health in this BREN blog by Erin Brooks, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Upcoming Soil Education Events
February 7 | A Holistic Approach to Manure Management
6:30-8:30 pm, Idaho Equine Hospital, 16080 Equine Drive, Nampa

February 15 | Soil Health Symposium
7:30-4:30, Four Rivers Cultural Center

March 7 | Pasture Management and Equine Health and Nutrition
6:30-8:30 pm, Idaho Equine Hospital, 16080 Equine Drive, Nampa

March 10 | Garden Soil Testing Workshops
North End Organic Nursery, Edwards Greenhouse, Franz Witte

April 2 | Lecture: Dr. David Montgomery
6:30 pm, Jordan Ballroom, Boise State University Student Union Building

April 21 | Soil Dig with University of Idaho
10:00 am, Fiddlers Green Farm

The Importance of Soil Health

By Erin Brooks, Natural Resources Conservation Service

It would have been hard to find any reference to soil health twenty years ago. Soil was conventionally treated as an inert growing medium. Today’s explosion of interest in soil health reflects a fundamental shift in soil science and a corresponding shift in the way we care for our nation’s soils. Soil is now recognized as a living ecosystem teeming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are the foundation of an elegant symbiotic ecosystem.

The complex soil ecosystem provides numerous benefits. These include:
1. Creating nutrients for plant growth,
2. Absorbing and holding rain for plant use during dry periods, and
3. Preventing soil and pollutants from leaving farm fields.

Healthy soil serves as a firm foundation for agricultural activities

Soil health is dynamic and changes in response to management practices.  Management practices can affect the amount of organic matter in the soil, the presence of which is critical for soil ecosystem function. Management practices also affect soil structure, soil depth, and water and nutrient holding capacity.  Soil health is improved when farmers mimic nature; when the myriad of creatures that comprise the soil food web are cared for and not abused.  A fully functioning soil produces the maximum benefit at the least cost.

It is crucial to integrate and follow all soil health management principles for the soil to become and remain healthy.

5 Principles of Soil Health

  1. 1. Minimizing soil disturbance
    2. Maximizing diversity of plants/crops
    3. Keep living roots in the soil
    4. Keep the soil covered with plants or residue at all times
    5. Incorporate livestock

The Boise River Enhancement Plan recommends adoption of these agricultural best management practices to enhance water quality in the Boise River and its tributaries.

Residue left between crop rows – no bare ground

Cover Crop – maximizing a living root, ground cover and plant diversity

Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

You can learn more about soil health and agricultural best management practices at the 9th Annual Soil Health Symposium on February 15.  Speakers include David Montgomery – University of Washington, Olga Walsh – University of Idaho, Shawn Nield – Idaho NRCS and Joel Packman – University of Idaho. The symposium will be held at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, OR. Information and registration

Unique Partnership Will Reduce Boise River Pollution

by Dr. Jack Harrison

Water in the Boise River will have less sediment and phosphorus because of a new partnership between the City of Middleton and Drainage District No. 2 (DD2). The innovative water quality improvement project will remove sediment and phosphorus from the Mill Slough, a major Boise River tributary. This partnership between the City and DD2 demonstrates how cities and the agricultural community can work together to reduce non-point pollution in the Boise River watershed.

Mayor Taylor

Middleton Mayor Darin Taylor leads a tour at the Mill Slough project site

on tour

Chris Yarbrough, IDFG and Jessica Harrold, Ada Soil and Water Conservation District and BREN visit the project site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middleton Mayor Darin Taylor said, “The Boise River is our front yard and we want to take care of it. We created this opportunity to partner with Drainage District 2 and do something neither of us could do on our own.”

Irrigation return often carries sediment and phosphorus

The Mill Slough discharges to the Boise River near Middleton Road and is one of twelve Boise River tributaries identified in the 2015 Lower Boise River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that need to contribute less sediment, bacteria and nutrients to the Boise River. According to US Geological Survey data, Mill Slough has the fifth highest discharge of total phosphorus when compared to other Boise River tributaries. Discharge loads average 125 pounds per day.

 

Project engineer Jack Harrison, HyQual

The Mill Slough is an integral part of DD2’s drainage system that serves the north side of the Boise River. The Mill Slough conveys irrigation water that flows off agricultural fields known as return flow, stormwater from urban residential areas, and municipal wastewater discharged from the City of Star. The three-phase water quality improvement project, as conceived and developed by Dr. Jack Harrison with HyQual P.A., starts with construction of an automatic weir structure installed in the Mill Slough a short distance upstream from the Boise River.

The weir will increase the Mill Slough water level and form a small sediment settling basin. To prevent downstream spiraling of nutrients that collect in the settling basin, DD2 and the City will remove sediment and phosphorus from the basin.  The sediment will be sampled and removal rates tracked to demonstrate the effectiveness of this “in-channel” treatment.  Sediment and phosphorus removed from the settling basin will be applied to City-owned land. It is estimated the project will result in an average annual sediment load reduction to the Boise River of about 900 tons/year and a total phosphorus load reduction of about 365 pounds-P/yr.

In the next phase of the project, the phosphorous-rich water in Mill Slough would be diverted south over City-owned land using historic overland flow channels that drain to the river. The final phase of the project could include a higher level of water quality treatment via expanded riparian flow channels and newly constructed wetlands and/or treatment basins. Read the Mill Slough Water Quality Plan Description.

Mill Slough

Mill Slough in Middleton

To help finance the Project, the City and DD2 jointly applied for a matching grant of $172,500 from the Lower Boise Watershed Council (LBWC).  The LBWC was awarded $250,000 from the State of Idaho’s Agricultural BMP General Fund, and, on October 12, 2017, the LBWC approved a grant in the amount of $172,500 for the joint City/DD2 Project.

Putting Down Roots at the Hyatt Reserve

Abe helps Granddad Gary collect seeds.

Energetic groups of adults and kids spread out across the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in early December in search of the fuzzy dry flower heads of rabbitbrush plants. The once-bright yellow flowers had turned a faded beige and harbored thousands of tiny seeds the volunteers carefully collected in paper sacks. Back at the trailhead, experts with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and Golden Eagle Audubon Society and Boise River Enhancement Network Coordinating Team members Tamsen Binggeli, Lisa Harloe, Erin Brooks, Kathy Peter and Charissa Bujak helped the volunteers plant the seeds in germination trays. The volunteer native plant gardeners then took the trays home to tend until the seeds germinate and the rabbitbrush seedlings are big enough to transplant.

Native plant gardeners Hilary, Silas and Lisa

Rabbitbrush in summer bloom.

All the fun is part of the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Habitat Enhancement Project, a partnership between the City of Boise, Boise River Enhancement Network, Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and other local organizations supported, in part, by funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The goals of the project are to improve the hillside habitat by restoring native plants and provide opportunities for community members of all backgrounds to develop a connection to this unique outdoor space. The seed gathering and plant growing is part of the project’s community plant nursery, a program to have volunteers grow plants well adapted to local conditions and use them for site restoration. The rabbitbrush grown from seeds collected by these volunteers will be ready to plant at the reserve in about one year.

Sean Finn of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society helps coordinate the community plant nursery. Sean explains, “The plants grown from local seed will be well-adapted to the soil and climate and should thrive at the reserve. Just like the plants, the volunteer gardeners are putting down roots and gaining a long-lasting connection with the wild places in their neighborhood.”

Halle collects seeds.

Tamsen planting seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The anticipation of returning to plant rabbitbrush they grew themselves was evident as volunteers carried their germination trays carefully to their cars with instructions for care over the winter.  Gathering seeds and growing the plants that will be used to improve bird habitat at the reserve is full of rewards. It’s an activity people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can enjoy. Teams from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho participated, and one young volunteer described the event as “pretty cool.”

Amber, Nara and Jai plant seeds.

The project is also engaging new residents that have come to Boise from many nations in the community nursery. Involving refugees in conservation helps them build a connection to their new home. Using seeds gathered at the reserve, project leaders helped fifteen new Boise residents from Bhutan prepare two germination trays, one with rabbitbrush and one with sagebrush. The men visited the reserve with project volunteers in October where they saw rabbitbrush and sagebrush and used binoculars to get close-up looks at the birds. Counselor Sally Guaspari said, “Visiting the reserve was a really rewarding experience. Most of the men were farmers by trade in their native Bhutan, so they have a strong appreciation of nature and plants.  Tending to the germination trays connects them to the community and they will be eager to take another trip to the reserve.”

Amber and Nanda’s tray is protected from squirrels.

 

 

 

The volunteer native plant gardeners will be back in the spring to transplant the seedlings into growing pots for the summer, and next fall, the new rabbitbrush will be planted at the reserve.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Improved Habitat Ahead for Hyatt Reserve

The Boise River Enhancement Network, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and other organizations and volunteers are working with the City of Boise to reduce weeds and improve habitat for birds at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve. The groups are implementing recommendations of the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Master Plan with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

The Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Habitat Enhancement Project will improve the upland habitat on the hillsides now overrun with undesirable species including feral cereal rye, kochia, tumble mustard, and cheat grass. The invasive plants provide poor habitat and pose a fire risk to the reserve and surrounding neighborhoods. The Boise River Enhancement Plan recommends increased control of invasive and non-native plants. 

Eric Willadsen, Stewardship Coordinator for the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley said, “Native plants will attract more birds and wildlife, reduce the risk of fire and beautify the reserve. There’s tremendous potential for improvement.”

Feral cereal rye dominates the hillsides at the reserve. Photo – Land Trust of the Treasure Valley

Firewise Native Plants

Project partners assembled a team of habitat experts who visited the reserve in September and made site-specific recommendations that Martha Brabec, Boise City Department of Parks and Recreation Open Space Specialist, has incorporated into the draft Hyatt Hidden Lakes Revegetation Proposal

Ada County Weed Control applied herbicide to some areas in the reserve this fall to kill invasive grasses. Volunteers and staff will plant drought-tolerant species including sagebrush, sandberg’s bluegrass, Canada bluegrass and sheep fescue in these areas in 2018.  Low flammability shrubs such as oakleaf sumac and mockorange and low growing grasses will be planted in the uplands on the western edge of the reserve. Clusters of chokecherry, golden current, rabbitbrush, and sagebrush will be planted in the transition zone between the wetlands and uplands. 

Habitat experts look at the disturbed hillsides at the reserve. Photo – Land Trust of the Treasure Valley

Open House Features Special Presentation on Birds

Visitors have observed 124 species of birds at the reserve. These include finches, wrens, sparrows, woodpeckers, swallows, warblers, hummingbirds, doves, quail, hawks and other species that use the uplands. The proposed enhancements will greatly improve nesting, foraging, and cover habitat for the upland birds. Native plants support populations of insects and critical pollinators too. Heidi Ware of the Intermountain Bird Observatory will make a special presentation on the “Hillside Birds of the Hyatt Reserve and the Plants They Love” on Thursday, November 30 as part of the Hyatt Reserve Open House.

     

Native plants support healthy populations of insects and pollinators. Photos by Ken Miracle.

The Open House is Nov. 30 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Boise WaterShed, 11818 W Joplin Rd, Boise, and presentations start at 6:00. Information about the project and the draft Hyatt Hidden Lakes Revegetation Proposal will be provided and public comments will be accepted.

“We want to hear what reserve users and reserve neighbors think about the proposal. Engaged community members created this special pocket of urban open space and strong community involvement is needed now to make these desired improvements,” said Martha Brabec.

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.

Native basin big sagebrush flourishes on the south hillside. Photo by Ken Miracle.

Fall at the Reserve

With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, BREN, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and many other community partners have started a new project at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve. The goals of the 18-month project are to improve hillside habitat at the reserve and introduce new visitors to the urban open space.

Alan Crockett

Alan Crockett plants willow donated by Idaho Power at the reserve on Nov. 3

Xylem Inc. employees Marie, Michael, Ladd and Kristin spent a morning removing russian olive trees at the reserve.

BREN Coordinating Team member Lisa Harloe points out ducks to Indra, a new resident from Bhutan on Oct. 30.

Mu Hla Htoo and Hserry enjoy bird watching during a project field trip on Oct. 17.

              

The reserve has a variety of wetland and hillside habitat. Photos by Ken Miracle.

       

Many birds are found at the reserve. Photos by Art Robertson.

Story Map of Urban Growth in the Treasure Valley

BSU’s MILES project just released a Story Map that documents historic growth in the Treasure Valley and provides future growth scenarios, and their impacts to different ecosystem services and land use changes, through 2100, in order to inform policy decisions about the sustainable management of local resources.

Check out the Story Map Here!

The importance of the Boise River as a driver of growth is documented, as well as impacts from past engineering, current development and future growth scenarios.

MILES stands for Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services, which is part of the Idaho EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. The MILES project is collaboration between Boise State University, Idaho State University and the University of Idaho, and was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Learn more about this program Here.

Information from the MILES project was incorporated into the Boise River Enhancement Plan. The MILES Team also provided critical feedback on the Plan.

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.

Dumpster

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.