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.

The BFF's: With Friends Like These...

It’s a chance to donate time and money, and get your hands dirty. Become a BFF, and participate in the Boise Foothills Friends.

When David Gordon took over as Ridge to Rivers program manager 12 years ago, the city of Boise had 95 miles of trails to manage. Now, those miles have doubled, with around 400,000 visitors per year.

We have four full-time positions and we pick up four more seasonal positions for trail crew,” Gordon said. “Since I’ve got here—up until this year—we’ve had the same size crew. We added one permanent position and two seasonal positions this year. The eight of us focus on the dirt.

The city has focused largely on acquiring foothills land through the 2001 foothills levy and now the new Clean Water and Open Space levy—both for $10 million.

What that means for Gordon and his crew is 200 miles of trail that need infill, tread, established slopes, drain dip and erosion repairs, invasive weed mitigation and a “laundry list” of other trail maintenance.

That’s just putting a Band-Aid on the problems, Gordon said. If we had additional funds, we could build cooler trails. We could turn old two-tracks into single track trail that would be much more fun. But that’s not a real high priority because we have all these other things to work on.

A handful of years ago, a solution to this funding problem was in the works when a small group of citizens came together and started talking about the creation of a friends group for the foothills.

Friends groups are 501(c)3 nonprofits that become helpful tools to raise money for large projects, as well as broaden awareness and strengthen community assets. For example, the Friends of the Park helps raise millions of dollars for the Boise River Park, allowing the first phase to be constructed in 2012, as well as the next phases, which are slated for construction in 2017.

While the city can’t ask for donations to fund such projects, a friends group can. Zoo Boise has its own Friends group, as well as the Boise Public Library. Gordon and other city employees longed to see a friends group of their own.

However, the creation of a friends group for the foothills quickly turned rocky.

It was so challenging even just to get an agreement hammered out, Gordon said. It baffles me why that was so challenging. You think it would be fairly easy, but it led to [the citizens involved] throwing their hands up and stepping away.

Three years ago, a friends group was created and called Boise Trail Works.

Which is kind of an odd name, Gordon said. Honestly, nothing has been done. So we’re still at ground zero on how to succeed. And it took two years just to get to that point.
The Boise Foothills Friends will create more opportunities to “get your hands dirty.”

The Boise Foothills Friends will create more opportunities to “get your hands dirty.”

That is, until Saturday, March 5.

The Egyptian Theatre nearly sold out for the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley’s inaugural Les Bois Film Festival, which showcased 15 short nature films from all over the world and a few local gems.

It was after one such film that Brooke Green, a board member of LTTV, took to the stage and made an important announcement.

We are launching an effort to continue trail maintenance projects starting tonight, called the Boise Foothills Friends, she said. Or, BFF. It’s a chance to donate time and money, and get your hands dirty. Become a BFF, and participate in the Boise Foothills Friends.

More information on the new foothills friends group is at lttv.org/friends-of-the-foothills.

Tim Breuer, the executive director of LTTV, has had this in mind for a long time. He was the original Ridge to Rivers program manager, so he understands firsthand the challenges Gordon and his crew are facing.

Working with the Land Trust puts this idea 10 years ahead of the game, as opposed to creating a new nonprofit, Breuer said. It’s hard to start something new and sustain it.

He said the new sub-group of the Land Trust will work closely with the city’s Foothills and Open Space senior manager, Sara Arkle, as well as Gordon, and help Ridge to Rivers grow a support staff.

This is a model where you’re not just relying on tax dollars and the government to get stuff done, but instead incorporating a non-political. non-governmental organization, Breuer said. “You can’t just keep buying trails. You have to take care of what you already have.