What are the tools in the box?

We take a multi-pronged approach to conservation. Engaging and educating the local community on the benefits of open space, setting an example as good stewards, and using a variety of tools to preserve remaining land are how we work to protect open space. One of those tools is the conservation easement.

According to our friends at the Land Trust Alliance, a conservation easement is: “...a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values.”

So what does that mean? It means an agreement between the land owner and the land trust, or a government entity, to conserve the land, often permanently. These agreements come in different forms and packages, and are as varied as the landscape they protect. At LTTV, we hold conservation easements on farmland, wetland, and foothills land. Want to know more? Check out other tools in the toolbox here.

You can also contact us any time with questions. We love to talk shop! 

The doe, the eagle, and the river.

Perkins is a quiet, peaceful place. LTTV staff visited the property on Wednesday, plodding along ground that was covered in water only a few weeks ago. A healthy mule deer made her way across the meadow and into the tangle of trees and brush on the island. Red wing blackbirds fluttered around and an osprey scanned the water from the top of a dead cottonwood tree.


This special place was gifted to the Land Trust in 2011. The Perkins Property is 12 acres on the eastern tip of Eagle Island where the Boise River splits into two distinct channels. Other streams cross the land during high flows, and at the tip of the island you can see exactly where one branch of the river veers north and the other south. While on this field trip out of the office, staff had the pleasure of meeting a few of Perkins’ residents: the mule deer, a juvenile bald eagle, several other birds, and some small rabbits. 


Perkins isn’t all bunnies and bird life, though. There is poison hemlock, invasive false indigo, and the occasional scream of a siren from nearby State Street. Trash, washed up on the gravel bar, was also on the property. Perkins is not accessible to the public, so the cans, plastic bags, and stray paddle came from upriver. With float season opening up in the next few days, this is a reminder for all of us to pack it in, pack it out. It’s also motivation to protect the special places in our valley.

Busy days outside means spring has sprung!

Get those kids outside!

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For the last day of school, we were lucky enough to host a class of students at Harrison Hollow. We showed the kids native plants and invasive weeds, cleared space around sagebrush starts (we all need some space to grow!), and did an activity to learn about stakeholders. We hope they get outside as much as possible this summer!

In early June, employees from Oliver Russell spent some time on the trail getting their hands and shovels dirty. This group of branding agency professionals worked on erosion control and fixing drainage issues on Harrison Ridge Trail inside the Hillside to Hollow Reserve.

A big round of applause for all the volunteers who worked with us on National Trails Day June 1st! Volunteers worked on Cartwright Ridge, a trail the Land Trust has been improving for over a year now.

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The time is NOW to rid our trails, sidewalks, and paths of pokey nutlets! As one of the 8 participating nonprofits, we urge you to go out and pick those puncturevines! Bag ‘em up and bring them to the Northend Organic Nursery and get them weighed. Prizes will be given to those who bring in the heaviest hauls. More information here.

Urban Reserve Feels the Love

120 youth and adults took to the hillsides at the City of Boise’s Hyatt Hidden Lake Reserve in October to create healthier habitat for birds and reduce fire risk. Armed with shovels of all sizes, trowels, and even a post hole digger, the determined volunteers dug through the rocky soil to plant nearly 2,000 native plants. The community planting days were the final public activity for the Hyatt Multi-Cultural Habitat Enhancement Project. The project is led by Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Boise River Enhancement Network and City of Boise, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and supported by numerous local partners.


Groups from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Xylem Watermark, Boise Veteran’s Administration, Suez, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Tomorrow’s Hope participated in the planting days along with dozens of community members. The plants were planted along the upper western edge of the reserve and in the area behind the Maple Grove parking lot.


15-month Habitat Makeover


Over the last 15 months, hundreds of community members have participated in numerous activities to improve the habitat at the 44-acre urban reserve. All told, close to 3,000 plants were planted including 1,500 fire resistant, resilient and drought-tolerant grasses - Sandberg bluegrass, Idaho fescue, bottlebrush squirreltail, and bluebunch wheatgrass.  To crowd out invasive weeds and provide foraging habitat for birds, native shrubs were planted - golden current, woods rose, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, sagebrush, and oakleaf sumac. Willow and thinleaf alder were planted to improve habitat close to the ponds and yarrow, hoary aster and milkweed were planted to support pollinators.


Hundreds of people helped with planting in 2017 and 2018 including the groups listed above and local Rotary Clubs, Boy Scout Troop 100, and the Idaho Fine Arts Academy Interact Club. Plants were donated to the project by Idaho Power, Rotary, and the Native Plant Network.


Volunteers Grow Plants from Seeds

In addition to the plants that were purchased or donated, hundreds of plants now nestled snugly at the reserve were grown by project volunteers. In an incredible display of purpose, volunteers gathered seeds from flowering plants at the reserve in the fall of 2017 and germinated them over the winter.  The seedlings were transplanted in the spring and nurtured over the hot summer months.  These plants were planted in October. Girl Scout Troop 105, College of Western Idaho, Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Idaho, new Americans from Nepal and other volunteers grew plants. The Golden Eagle Audubon Society Native Plant Network and Land Trust of the Treasure Valley supervised.


Volunteers also helped remove unwanted plants.  Employees of Xylem Watermark worked with the Boise Parks and Recreation to take out Russian olive trees and provide space for willows and black cottonwoods. Volunteer Weed Warriors trained by City of Boise Open Space Restoration Specialist Martha Brabec worked weekly to remove thistle, teasel, goat heads and other weeds.


Discovering the Reserve

The partnership project hosted field trips and birding outings to the reserve, which, in addition to the stewardship activities, introduced hundreds of people to this hidden natural gem.  It was common to hear people exclaim that they’d driven by for years and never stopped. The increase in awareness and appreciation for the unique area is vital to ensure long term community stewardship of the reserve. The project also provided new residents from many nations the opportunity to visit the urban oasis and learn about the birds and plants.  Volunteers led groups from the Idaho Office of Refugees, the Agency for New Americans and new residents from Nepal around the reserve and provided binoculars to increase the fun. A big thanks to Golden Eagle Audubon Society and the Boise Watershed for helping.


LTTV Earns Accreditation

One thing that unites us as a nation is land. Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1996, Land Trust of the Treasure Valley (LTTV) has been doing just that for the people of Idaho. LTTV has now announced it has achieved national recognition by becoming accredited – joining a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation demonstrating their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

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"Gaining accreditation by the LTA Accreditation Commission means a lot to the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley," said Executive Director Tim Breuer. "Sound practices assure the public that we are using their resources efficiently and that our project work is done with best practices to assure strong public benefit. Our process and policies have improved by virtue of going through the accreditation process. We are a stronger organization because of it."

Land Trust of the Treasure Valley provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that LTTV’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.

In 2011, LTTV purchased 59 acres of land, kicking off what would later become the Hillside to Hollow Reserve. In 2018, the Land Trust furthered conservation efforts in the valley by purchasing 560 acres of land northwest of Boise, providing a path forward for the connection between Stack Rock and Avimor. LTTV also works to protect the community’s land resources by holding easements, hosting trail work days, and coordinating stewardship projects.

“It is exciting to recognize Land Trust of the Treasure Valley with this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

Land Trust of the Treasure Valley is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census.  

A New Trail Takes Shape in the Western Foothills

Trails in the western foothills are easy to enjoy. Seamans Gulch, owned by Ada County, has great loops and ample parking. Polecat is an outstanding network of trails, and Chukar Butte Trail has recently been made available for even more outdoor fun.

But how do these all connect?

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Working with Cartwright Ranch and the Hidden Springs Community, as well as other private landowners, public trail agreements have made one piece of the western foothills available to the public. Called Cartwright Ridge Trail, it is the backbone of a possible connection between western foothills open spaces. The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley is setting the stage to help make these connections a reality, starting with trail easements on Cartwright Ridge.

"The cooperation from private landowners and the two communities has helped make this first phase happen," said Land Trust Executive Director Tim Breuer.

One cooperator has been the developers of Cartwright Ranch. Access to trails and open space is becoming an important amenity for home buyers.

Another private owner, Highland Livestock and Land, has agreed to allow access across their property as well. This isn’t their first rodeo, as the Little family was one of the first to agree to trail access in the early 1990s. “Our family has been in the livestock business for several generations. We also are part of the community and allowing managed trail access on our private land is good for the community and helps protect our property,” said Adam Little.

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The Land Trust, in securing agreements with private owners, has facilitated basic trail maintenance. Reroute work was completed in spring 2018 as part of a volunteer project with assistance from REI, Idaho Conservation Corps and the Hidden Springs Community. Signs were funded by a grant from the National Association of REALTORS® secured by the Boise Regional REALTORS®.

"Our members are real estate professionals in the community who understand the value and support the creation and maintenance of trails and open space," said Gary Salisbury, 2018 Boise Regional REALTORS® President and senior sales consultant for Equity Northwest Real Estate. “Bringing to life a new segment of trail was a natural fit for us and we look forward to enjoying this trail for years to come. ”

For now, the trail is out and back from the intersection of Cartwright Road and Pierce Park Road. Parking is limited in the road right-of-way and down the street at Polecat Trailhead. The planned future phases of connecting trails to other areas will depend on the cooperation of private landowners.

Views from the ridge are quite nice, and the future looks bright for the western foothills.

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WOW introduces local kids to conservation

Wild Outdoor Week (WOW) connects underserved youth with open space, STEM education, outdoor recreation and conservation professionals. Participants are primarily from the refugee community and do not pay to participate. In 2018, WOW engaged 31 teens over the course of two programs.


WOW focuses on providing access to natural landscapes for youth who have not had the chance to explore the foothills and ponderosa forests close to home. Wild Outdoor Week also seeks to use these experiences to get participants thinking about what to do after high school by exposing them to field conservation careers with the Forest Service, BLM, City of Boise, and nonprofits.

In 2018, WOW participants cleared 2 miles of trails, surveyed Cartwright Ridge for the rare Aase’s Onion, completed Brown’s Transects to assess local forests for wildfire danger, improved bird habitat at Hyatt Hidden Lakes, practiced working on a fire line with the Lowman Hand Crew and planted 100 native shrubs in Harrison Hollow.


90% of participants indicated that they would pursue field conservation-focused employment opportunities with Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC) based on their WOW experiences. One-third of participants are already seeking employment with ICC this summer.

“I didn’t know you could be a firefighter in the woods,” said Sunny Wa, when asked about what he wanted to do when he finished high school.

WOW is not just all work and no play - the program harnesses a strong “fun factor” to keep participants engaged and excited about each day. Past activities have included completing water quality surveys in the S. Fork Payette River, looking for macroinvertebrates in Dry Creek and exploring Mores Mountain and Lucky Peak Dam.  

“I wish I could go back and do it all over again” said Edo Se, a WOW participant.

WOW would not be possible without generous support from many partners and sponsors, including a grant from the US Forest Service and key contributions from Idaho Conservation Corps, City of Boise, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, College of Western Idaho and many, many more.

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.


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.”


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.