Volunteers Bring Native Plant Life to Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve

More than 90 volunteers made quick work of planting 550 shrubs at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve on April 14 as part of a cooperative project to improve wildlife habitat and decrease fire risk. The volunteers included members of Rotary Clubs from across the Treasure Valley and 32 youth including members of Boy Scout Troop 100 and the Idaho Fine Arts Academy Interact Club.

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Nestled in a residential and commercial area in West Boise, the ponds, wetlands and hillsides of the reserve blend together to create a unique pocket of wildlife habitat in the center of urban Treasure Valley. The reserve enjoys year-round use by people attracted by the rich bird life, the wide paths, and the outstanding scenery. The 18-month project is led by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and Boise River Enhancement Network.

Martha Brabec, Boise Parks and Recreation Restoration Specialist said, “This site used to be a gravel pit, and most of the native vegetation was removed. We’re rebuilding the natural habitat and creating important diversity for the birds that live here and stop over during migration. Thousands of new plants will be in the ground by the time the project is complete.”

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The local project aligned perfectly with Rotary International’s 1.2 Million Tree Planting Challenge, a national campaign to plant one tree for each member of Rotary. It also was a great fit for Jayanth Mouli, a sophomore at Boise High School who selected this conservation project for his Eagle Scout service project.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of native plants destined for planting at the reserve were transplanted to “conetainers” for the summer. Members of the Silver Sage Girl Scout Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho and others had gathered and planted the seeds in the fall. The seedlings needed bigger quarters, and the volunteers carefully separated the sprouts and replanted them in a cone-shaped container that provides plenty of space. Sean Finn of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society said, “Growing plants is an exciting way for kids to be part of the Hyatt project. It’s a win-win because plants grown from local seeds have a better chance to survive.”

The new plants are already changing the look of the hillsides at the reserve, but it’s critical to keep down the weeds that can out-compete the native plants. On April 25, 25 volunteer Weed Warriors took to the reserve with trowels and shovels eagerly digging out thistle, teasel and other weeds. Martha Brabec identified the weeds and demonstrated the best method to use. Many of the volunteers visit the reserve regularly, and they promised to continue the weeding on their own now that they have guidance.

The project is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and led by the Land Trust of the Treasure ValleyBoise River Enhancement Network, and the City of Boise Department of Parks and Recreation. Project partners include U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Office of Refugees by Jannus, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, College of Western Idaho, The Wetlands Group, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, Rotary International and Partners for Clean Water.



 

Why Do Beavers Eat Willows?

Have you ever heard of a beaver with a headache? Probably not. Beavers don’t get headaches because they eat willow plants that contain the active ingredient in aspirin. And they don’t have to worry about child-proof caps.

You can learn about the medicinal and traditional uses of many plants that grow at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve at the Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project Open House on March 7 from 5:30-7:30 at the Boise Watershed, 11818 W Joplin, Boise 83714.

Plant ecologist, teacher and author Roger Rosentreter Ph. D will share his ethnobotanical knowledge of Idaho's native plants. Martha Brabec, City of Boise Parks and Recreation Restoration Specialist, and Conner Jackson will talk about invasive plants at the reserve and the ongoing control strategies.  Eric Willadsen of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley will provide an update on the Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project including upcoming opportunities to be part of this cooperative effort. The presentations start at 6:00 pm.

Before and after the presentations, you can visit with representatives from the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho Firewise, Community Native Plant Nursery, Boise River Enhancement Network and more. The educational exhibits at the Boise WaterShed will be open for the kids to enjoy during the open house.

With spring right around the corner, Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project partners are preparing to transplant native plant seedlings from germination trays into cones for the summer growing season. Over the past three months, volunteers planted more than 50 germination trays with seeds gathered from the reserve and other Treasure Valley locations. Those plants will find a new home in the reserve next fall.

The battle to control weeds at the reserve begins anew in the spring, and this year Weed Warriors will be trained to tackle the task. Weed Warriors are specially-trained volunteers who adopt specific areas to pull weeds on their own schedule and at their own pace. According to Martha Brabec, Weed Warriors made a difference in the foothills in 2017, and she’s excited to provide a training specifically for the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve on April 25. Field trips to the reserve for new residents from many nations and others will also be on the project schedule for the spring when migrating birds are at the reserve.

The Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project is led by the Land Trust of the Treasure ValleyBoise River Enhancement Network, and the City of Boise. Project partners include U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Office of Refugees by Jannus, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, The Wetlands Group, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, and Partners for Clean Water. The goals of the project are to establish bird-friendly, fire-resistant vegetation on hillsides at the reserve and help community members of all backgrounds connect to this unique outdoor space.

Putting Down Roots at the Hyatt Reserve

Energetic groups of adults and kids spread out across the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in early December in search of the fuzzy dry flower heads of rabbitbrush plants. The once-bright yellow flowers had turned a faded beige and harbored thousands of tiny seeds the volunteers carefully collected in paper sacks. Back at the trailhead, experts with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Golden Eagle Audubon Society and Boise River Enhancement Network helped the volunteers plant the seeds in germination trays. The volunteer native plant gardeners then took the trays home to tend until the seeds germinate and the rabbitbrush seedlings are big enough to transplant.

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All the fun is part of the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Habitat Enhancement Project, a partnership between the City of Boise and local organizations supported, in part, by funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The goals of the project are to improve the hillside habitat by restoring native plants and provide opportunities for community members of all backgrounds to develop a connection to this unique outdoor space. The seed gathering and plant growing is part of the project’s community plant nursery, a program to have volunteers grow plants well adapted to local conditions and use them for site restoration. The rabbitbrush grown from seeds collected by these volunteers will be ready to plant at the reserve in about one year.    

Sean Finn of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society helps coordinate the community plant nursery. Sean explains, “The plants grown from local seed will be well-adapted to the soil and climate and should thrive at the reserve. Just like the plants, the volunteer gardeners are putting down roots and gaining a long-lasting connection with the wild places in their neighborhood.”

The anticipation of returning to plant rabbitbrush they grew themselves was evident as volunteers carried their germination trays carefully to their cars with instructions for care over the winter.  Gathering seeds and growing the plants that will be used to improve bird habitat at the reserve is full of rewards. It’s an activity people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can enjoy. Teams from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho participated, and one young volunteer described the event as “pretty cool.”

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The project is also engaging new residents that have come to Boise from many nations in the community nursery. Involving refugees in conservation helps them build a connection to their new home. Using seeds gathered at the reserve, project leaders helped fifteen new Boise residents from Bhutan prepare two germination trays, one with rabbitbrush and one with sagebrush. The men visited the reserve with project volunteers in October where they saw rabbitbrush and sagebrush and used binoculars to get close-up looks at the birds.

Counselor Sally Guaspari said, “Visiting the reserve was a really rewarding experience. Most of the men were farmers by trade in their native Bhutan, so they have a strong appreciation of nature and plants.  Tending to the germination trays connects them to the community and they will be eager to take another trip to the reserve.”

The volunteer native plant gardeners will be back in the spring to transplant the seedlings into growing pots for the summer, and next fall, the new rabbitbrush will be planted at the reserve.

The project is led by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Boise River Enhancement Network, and the City of Boise. Project partners include U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Office of Refugees by Jannus, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, The Wetlands Group, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, and Partners for Clean Water.

New Partnership Improves Wildlife Habitat and Enriches Lives

New Partnership Improves Wildlife Habitat and Enriches Lives

Nestled in a residential and commercial area is a hidden gem of nature, Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve. The series of ponds, wetlands and hillside blend together to create a unique pocket of wildlife habitat in the center of urban Treasure Valley. The Reserve, managed by Boise City Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments, is guided by a 17-year-old community-generated Master Plan.

Dinner on Dry Creek is August 25th, 2017 register today!

The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley’s annual fundraising dinner will be on Friday, August 25th, at the Hidden Spring Community Barn.

We hope you will join us for this annual celebration. Guests arrive beginning at 6 pm to enjoy live music, appetizers and lawn games. Dinner will be paella from the Basque Market, accompanied by wines, and beer from Woodland Empire Ale Craft. (Drinks are included in the price of the ticket.)  The evening will conclude with a live auction, and handmade desserts.

Tickets are available HERE. 

This event typically sells out, and we look forward to seeing you at Dry Creek, near some of the newest trails Land Trust staff and volunteers have built.

You won’t want to miss this social gathering on a lovely evening at a close to home location in the countryside! 

Trail to Stack Rock Re-opens for Public Access

June 9, 2017

The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley is pleased to announce the trail to Stack Rock, also known as ‘Entrance Exam’ is once again open to the public, on marked trails only.  

The trail was closed in June of 2016 to allow logging activity on the private land that the trail crosses. While some areas will still be impacted by logging this summer and fall, the landowners have agreed to allow the trail to re-open for public use. The logging is part of an effort to maintain and improve forest health. Douglas fir in the area have been dying due to impacts from mistletoe and bark beetles. Replanting will take place once removal of diseased trees is complete.  

“We are fortunate that these landowners allow public access across their private land on the marked trail.  It’s the direct route to Stack Rock and an important and popular trail, particularly for hikers” said Tim Breuer, Director of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley.

The Land Trust secured the revocable trail easement across three different ownerships in 2013.  Public access is allowed only on the marked trail.

“The best way to sustain and keep our trail system intact is to be respectful of the private land that many of our foothills trails cross, including ‘Entrance Exam’, and to avoid traveling off the marked route. For the safety of the public, and as requested by the landowners, visitors are asked to stay on the marked logging road. They will find that the trail is a bit rough, so caution is advised, but the trail is passable. Users should also be on the lookout for logging traffic along the route.” added Breuer.

Access to the trail, which is a direct route to Stack Rock, is found just past mile marker 13 on Bogus Basin Road. Parking is limited. An alternative to this route to Stack Rock begins at Bogus Basin Ski Resort, called ‘Eastside’ trail. Recreationists may also enjoy other high elevation trail options such as ‘Around the Mountain’ trail and the ‘Headwaters’ trail network in upper Dry Creek near mile marker 12.

Upper Dry Creek Headwaters becomes non-motorized to create family trail experience

Another informal trail system in the Boise Foothills is going formal — and non-motorized.

Gates have been installed on the Upper Dry Creek Headwaters trails along Bogus Basin Road, the first step in creating a family-friendly trail system and protecting the property from trash dumping, vandalism, tree cutting and other undesirable activity. The gates will be closed around the time it starts to snow.

The trails, which are badly rutted logging roads, are managed by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley as part of a revocable agreement between the property owner, Grossman Company Properties, and the city of Boise. The priority is to maintain the trails in a way that protects the headwaters of the creek, which has native redband trout — the only trout in the Foothills.

The Grossman property covers 3,400 acres of the 6,000 acres in the Upper Dry Creek watershed.

“The non-motorized experience is one we’re attempting to embrace so that it’s a little bit more family-friendly outing,” said Tim Breuer, executive director of the Land Trust. “It’s so close to Boise. In fact, from an overlook surrounded by trees you can see Downtown Boise, so it’s a pretty unique, cool opportunity.”

The Upper Dry Creek Headwaters system has two trailheads marked with interpretive signs. The first is 12.2 miles from the intersection of Bogus Basin and Hill roads. Turn onto the dirt road on the right, where there is parking for a few cars. This is called the 12 Mile Trailhead. It’s one mile to the Ponderosa Pine Overlook, with a terrific view of the city below. We added the Snowshoe Hare Loop to our hike, which resulted in a 2.6-mile loop with about 300 feet of elevation gain (down on the way in, up on the way back).

The Doug Fir Loop adds another 1.75 miles and leads to a trail that would connect to the other trailhead if you wanted a lengthy adventure. The Ponderosa Pine Overlook also connects to the Dry Creek trail that is part of Ridge to Rivers via an unnamed trail (but it’s very rough right now).

The turn for the second trailhead, the Ridge Road Trailhead, is 13.9 miles up Bogus Basin Road. Turn right onto the dirt road and follow it for about a quarter mile, where there’s only room for a couple of cars. The trail begins on the right but the marker isn’t visible from the road. The Headwaters Trail is about a 3.2-mile round trip with 600 feet of elevation change (mostly down on the way in, up on the way back). It winds through the forest below the ridge and ends at the creek. You can turn around to return to the trailhead or take the 1.1-mile Headwaters Connection over to Doug Fir Loop.

The headwaters area has been popular with snowshoers and cross country skiers in the past. Breuer also hopes it becomes a place for family mountain bike rides because the trails are wide and not technical, but some maintenance will have to be done first to fix the ruts.

“We’ll be attempting to fix them the next couple of years,” Breuer said.

Parking also will need to be addressed eventually, depending on how much use the trails get.