More than 2,500 acres of wildlife habitat in the Boise foothills went up in smoke last week as a result of a wildfire. Rehabilitation of that burned area is now underway, as is an effort to rehabilitate a 30,000 acre burn just north of Mountain Home. Fish and Game is asking for volunteers to play a key role in both ventures.
"We need sagebrush and rabbitbrush seed and lots of it," Fish and Game volunteer coordinator Mary Dudley noted. "One of the ways to get that seed is to have plenty of volunteers collecting it."
Volunteer crews will take to the Boise Foothills and the Bennett Mountain area near Mountain Home to collect seed nearly every Saturday from October through December. "We've designated October 7, 14, 21 and 28, November 4 and 18, and December 2, 9 and 16 as seed collection dates," Dudley said. "We want to invite individuals and groups to come out one or more of those days to help us in this very important effort." If you'd like to help, contact Dudley at 327-7099. Because of the magnitude of the collection effort, weekday seed gathering can also be arranged.
After collection, the seed will be dried and stored, then aerially seeded on burned areas during the winter months. "That technique offers the best chance for the seeds to get established in the spring," Dudley said.
Sagebrush, rabbitbrush and bitterbrush are important shrubs for deer and elk that browse on the native plants in the winter when other foods remain snow covered. These shrubs benefit many other wildlife species by providing shelter from the elements, nesting habitat and food. Because of their deep-rooted nature, the shrubs also help stabilize soils.
The habitat rehabilitation effort doesn't end with seed collection this fall. "We will be planting thousands of bitterbrush seedlings next February and March again using volunteer help," Dudley explained. Look for more information about this project early next year.
To learn more about seed collection efforts and other volunteer projects to help wildlife, contact Dudley at 327-7099.