On Saturday, Oct. 13, roughly 150 volunteers, including groups of Boise State University and College of Western Idaho (CWI) students, joined representatives from Boise State’s Intermountain Bird Observatory (IBO), CWI, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Native Plant Network, and Idaho Fish and Game to plant more than 2,000 native plants at the Boise River Research Station. The planting doubled as an experiment to test what native species could survive – and thrive – in a variety of soils, while nourishing pollenators, sheltering birds and keeping invasive weeds at bay.
The planting effort was the grand culmination of a spring and summer’s worth of work done by a few Boise State and CWI interns, as well as partner organizations, explained Greg Kaltenecker, director of the IBO.
“This was a huge effort, hopefully one of many on the property,” Kaltenecker said. “Our interns mapped the site all summer, surveyed monarch butterflies, mapped out existing vegetation and surveyed invasive plants. This is the first, I hope, of many of these planting efforts to restore native habitat on the property.”
The volunteer day wasn’t just about getting plants in the ground. The partnering organizations hope to determine the best methods for planting native plants along the Boise River. As an experiment, volunteers planted using three different methods for controlling non-native plants. Next spring, the groups will be able to compare which method is best for planting on that site, which will hopefully translate to other areas along the Boise River.
“It’s important to test out this experimental design, it gives future Boise State students the opportunity to get out and monitor what works and what doesn’t,” said Sean Finn, a Boise State alumnus and board member of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society. “And for our groups, we’ll have better information on what works and what doesn’t for restoration projects in the years to come.”
While planting is finished for this year at the Boise River site, several of the participating groups have other volunteer planting opportunities planned Oct. 23-27 at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in west Boise, off of Five Mile Road. To find out more information or to sign up to volunteer, go here.