Idaho Wildlife Volunteers Wanted

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If cabin fever has you itching to get outside, consider helping with a project through Fish and Game’s Volunteer Program.

A variety of interesting and worthwhile projects are scheduled for the coming weeks, all of them designed to benefit wildlife habitat and the people of southwest Idaho. Here’s a sample of upcoming projects:

Big Game Winter Range Restoration
Thousands of sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings have already been planted on the Boise River Wildlife Management Area east of Boise. Saturday, March 5, marked the first day of the annual volunteer native shrub restoration project. Subsequent planting efforts were conducted on March 12 and 19. Two planting events remain – March 26 and April 2. Transportation and all planting tools will be provided.

Volunteers have planted hundreds of thousands of bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings during the past 20 years to restore native bitterbrush and sagebrush habitats in Southwest Idaho. In the process, they’ve saved the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to saving the agency money, volunteers have improved hundreds of acres of winter range and also take their new-found education back to the city. We hope that this project will educate folks about the importance of winter range and open land.

Bitterbrush and sagebrush – both native shrubs – comprise an important component of big game winter ranges in Idaho and throughout the west. Besides providing essential food sources for deer, elk, pronghorn, sage grouse and other wildlife, bitterbrush and sagebrush provide cover from the elements, protection from predators and nesting habitat.

Even large animals, such as deer and elk, find shelter among mature stands of bitterbrush and sagebrush during winter storms. The animals hunker down under the shrubs, out of the wind and snow, to conserve precious body fat which they need to survive the lean winter months. Because of their deep-rooted structure, native shrubs provide for soil stabilization, reducing erosion.

Snake River Cleanup
Fish and Game works hard to keep Idaho’s recreation areas clean, but we can always use a helping hand. Every year, dozens of volunteers venture out to help clean up Map Rock and adjacent recreation sites, including the stretch of river below Swan Falls dam. This year, the cleanup is scheduled for a Saturday in late March or early April. Volunteers will enjoy the camaraderie of others interested in keeping Idaho clean.

Unfortunately, there is never a shortage of trash found along the riverbanks. Thoughtless people dump whole pickup loads of trash along the river. The hope is that an increase in public awareness of the problem will lead to fewer incidents of this irresponsible behavior. Trash belongs in the landfill, not along the rivers that provide such great recreational opportunities for Idaho residents.

Free Fishing Day
Each year, Idaho Fish and Game offers free fishing to the residents of Idaho. Free Fishing Day this year will be June 11. Our hope is that everyone interested in fishing will get involved in the annual event. Fish and Game offers fishing clinics throughout the state at local ponds and often provides fishing poles, bait, and food for kids, families, and individuals of all ages. We encourage parents to get their children outside and fish!

How to get involved
Call the Southwest Region volunteer office at 208-327-7095 or email volunteer coordinator Michael Young at: michael [dot] young [at] idfg [dot] idaho [dot] gov. A schedule with upcoming projects can be found on the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/volunteer.

Michael Young is assistant volunteer coordinator for the Southwest Region.