Mule deer in the Magic Valley are getting a helping hand, and anyone can be part of the effort.
Bitterbrush planting will take place at various sites throughout the region on Saturdays from April 5 through April 19.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites area outdoor enthusiasts to participate in planting shrubs and seedlings on mule deer winter range throughout the region. The project is part of the department's Mule Deer Initiative, a statewide effort to improve habitat and boost deer populations.
"Bitterbrush is a preferred food source where it occurs on winter range," said Mark Fleming, regional wildlife habitat manager. "Fire has impacted much of our deer habitat. By planting seedlings, we're giving these areas a head start. Without our intervention, it could take a generation before we see bitterbrush begin to thrive again."
Fish and Game volunteers are a key component in its efforts to preserve fish and wildlife, Fleming said.
"When a person works on the landscape, they've made an investment in that landscape," said Ed Papenberg, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator. "People tend to protect their investments. We're planting seedlings, but we're also cultivating a community which values its natural resources."
"Besides, it's just plain fun," Papenberg said. "You get to spend time in beautiful country, and we provide a lunch to boot."
Each planting effort is an all-day affair including driving time, and participants need to prepare for any weather.
Anyone interested in joining should call Papenberg at 208-324-4359.