Conditions are improving for native birds, wildlife and fish along the Boise River in Eagle and Middleton due to the hard work of BREN volunteers. With the support of GEICO Treasure Valley, a crew tackled weeds at Woods Park in Eagle on July 25, and employees from Ridgeline Insights worked with BREN at Middleton River Park on August 7 as part of United Way of Treasure Valley’s Days of Caring.
Invasive weeds hog space and offer little to nothing in the way of habitat for native species. Large invasions of weeds, like we see in many areas, decrease the function and value of critical habitat along the river and nearby water bodies. The Boise River Enhancement Plan flags invasive weeds as a major problem and recommends a comprehensive weed control effort.
Natives v Weeds at Future Eagle Park
The site of the future Woods Park in Eagle has undergone a big improvement during the past 18 months. There were no willows or native plants growing on the shoreline of two ponds that had been donated to the City of Eagle when we checked in early 2019. Since then, BREN volunteers have planted hundreds of willows and other shrubs. Much of the shoreline is transformed. Some of the willows are 10 feet tall now! Read more about the project
The willows and native shrubs are in a battle with the fast-growing weeds common to the Boise River including Purple Loosestrife, Canada Thistle, and Scotch Thistle. An enthusiastic group of volunteers dug out and cut down the weeds to prevent them from seeding this summer. They also cleared space around small shrubs we’d planted in November so we could see if they were still alive. GEICO Treasure Valley generously provided dry bags to the volunteers. The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Idaho Fish and Game, SUEZ Water and City of Eagle partner with BREN on this ongoing project.
Lori in front of a willow she planted as a stake in March 2019; Woods Rose grown by Native Plant Network volunteer Jon Roundy and planted in Nov. 2019; Dale clearing space and checking on flagged shrubs; Adam and Louisa with GEICO dry bags
Care for the Boise River; Not the Goatheads!
Invasive weeds are a problem in any disturbed area along the Boise River and the 100-acre Middleton River Park is no exception. The area was homesteaded and much of the native vegetation was removed. Part of the floodplain was filled changing the hydrology of the site giving invasive weeds that tolerate dry conditions and poor soil an advantage. BREN teamed up with United Way of Treasure Valley, Ridgeline Insights and City of Middleton to dig out bag loads of nasty goatheads and cut down Purple Loosestrife in the riparian area. The stewardship event was part of United Way’s Days of Caring. The team also picked up garbage including many feet of barbed wire. A special shout out to Julio, a student at Middleton High School, who volunteered on August 7 after having volunteered for the BREN Make It Pretty Clean Up in Middleton in May. Special thanks to Rob Tiedemann and Louisa Evers for helping to supervise and teach mini-classes on birds and plants.
For more on the birds of Middleton River Park, please read Louisa’s blog series. Birding for Citizen Science in Middleton, Songbirds of Middleton River Park – Part 1, Songbirds of Middleton River Park – Part 2, Songbirds of Middleton River Park – Part 3 and Game Birds and Wading Birds of Middleton River Park
Purple Loosestrife – now you see it, now you don’t
Removing Purple Loosestrife and goatheads
Great volunteer team from Ridgeline Insights and Julio