If you are one of the 100,000 annual visitors to the Edson Fichter Nature Area in Pocatello, then you have probably noticed the new planting projects happening at the hands of some pretty special volunteers.
The High Desert Chapter of the Idaho Master Naturalists, a unique conservation-minded volunteer group supported by Idaho Fish and Game, has spent the last four months planting trees, shrubs, and pollinator plugs across the Edson Fichter Nature Area with the aid of a $3500 grant from the Ifft Foundation. This effort has also included countless hours of putting up protective cages, hand watering, and weeding to help these new additions take root in this beloved community gem.
“Though there is quite a bit of wildlife habitat at Edson Fichter, there is the need for more vegetative diversity, especially with native plant species,” says Maria Pacioretty, Regional Wildlife Habitat Biologist with Idaho Fish and Game. “We are grateful for the Ifft Foundation grant funds and for the Idaho Master Naturalists who are continuously working to enhance the nature area for both wildlife and people.”
Idaho Master Naturalist, Mike Larkin of Pocatello, worked through the Portneuf Resource Council to submit the application for the Ifft Grant and has been helping a dozen other master naturalist volunteers to implement the project once funds were awarded.
When asked why this grant and the project itself is so important, Larkin replied, “This Ifft grant will help improve the beauty of the nature area as well as provide habitat for pollinator species that have been declining across the country.”
Sara Ifft and her late husband, Nicholas Ifft III, established the Ifft Foundation Trust in October 1984. Nick, his father, and his grandfather were engaged in the newspaper publishing business for more than a century. The Ifft family newspaper enterprises benefited from the loyalty of its readers, so it was Nick and Sara’s desire to return some of those benefits to the communities of southeastern Idaho. In June 2001, the Ifft Foundation’s assets became an advised fund in the Idaho Community Foundation. Projects that are considered for Ifft grants include those that benefit community beautification and public recreation; benefit education, history and the arts; and, improve the quality of public life in southeastern Idaho. Grants typically range from $3,000 - $10,000.
The Edson Fichter Nature Area is located just minutes from downtown Pocatello and offers outdoors enthusiasts a convenient escape close to home. The Portneuf River runs through this 40-acre site which also features paved trails, a 3-acre fishing pond with docks, an amphitheater, and plenty of wildlife from otters to eagles and an occasional moose.
For more information about the Edson Fichter Nature Area or the Idaho Master Naturalist Program, please contact the Idaho Fish and Game regional office in Pocatello at 208-232-4703.