Volunteers collect native seed on their own to make future planting projects possible in 2021

What did the volunteer-based program do during COVID to collect essential, locally adapted seed for fire restoration projects when large, collective group gatherings were no longer permissible? Volunteers struck out on their own to collect seed one bag at a time. There were also a few individuals collecting seed with Fish and Game staff on small outings. Sagebrush seed collected during the winter of 2020 will be germinated, grown and planted to restore areas burned by the Woodhead Fire at Andrus WMA, and to restore degraded habitat on Hammer Flat at Boise River WMA.

These seedlings will be put in the ground this spring and/or fall, when Fish and Game staff and volunteers gather to do the planting. Fish and Game always needs additional help from the community to ensure sagebrush seedlings get planted on the landscape for wildlife to consume, to use for cover, and to nest and rear their young.

Sagebrush provides upwards of 60 percent of the diet of some ungulates and birds depending on the time of year. For example, in the late summer and fall, mule deer switch their diet to shrubs to build up fat reserves for the winter. During winter, deer survive by browsing on exposed twigs of bitterbrush and sagebrush, as well as other native shrubs. Winter forage is critical to maintain healthy deer populations.

To assist with one of these native shrub planting projects, or to be included on our volunteer distribution list, please contact karie.pappani@idfg.idaho.gov.