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Boise State students restore local trails through Service-Learning program

Students in the foothills planting seedlings
Students in the foothills planting seedlings

Boise State’s Restoration Planning and Disturbance Ecology class taught by Megan Cattau, assistant professor in Human-Environment Systems in the College of Innovation and Design, worked on native species restoration of trails in the Military Reserve, a 734-acre park close to the Boise foothills and available to public users for biking and hiking.

Martha Brabec, foothills restoration specialist for the City of Boise and a Boise State alum who graduated with a master’s degree in biology in 2014, worked with the class to create a plan for planting 500 sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings at 125 sites. Sagebrush provides shelter for many small animals such as rodents and bitterbrush is a vital food resource for deer in the winter.

Two seedlings surrounded by plant protectors, planted by students in the foothills
Two seedlings surrounded by plant protectors, planted by students in the foothills

The students used Quantum Geographic Information System, spatial analysis software, to create their planting plan.

“In creating this project, we’ve been able to apply the geospatial skills and restoration context we’ve focused on in class to contribute to active restoration in our home of Boise,” Cattau said.

Meg Dolman, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program from Kent, England, said, “Engaging in this restoration project taught me just how much meticulous planning, commitment, and flexibility is required to implement a restoration project in the field, rather than just discussing theories in a classroom setting.”

See the class’s final research poster at the Service Learning Exhibition Dec. 7 – 17. Visit

By: Hannah McNamee
College of Health Sciences student journalist