By early December, most big game hunting seasons are wrapped up in Idaho and many folks won't start thinking about deer and elk for several months. However, it turns out this is a great time of year for hunters to invest in their future hunting opportunities by helping collect sagebrush seeds that can improve habitat. Sagebrush plays a vital role in winter range for deer, elk and pronghorn (and many other animals) and when sagebrush ecosystems get destroyed by wildfire it can take a very long time for the sagebrush to regenerate. In an effort to help with this challenge, Idaho Fish & Game identifies high-priority areas that need fire rehab work and also identifies areas that have plentiful sagebrush where teams of volunteers can go about collecting sagebrush seeds.
On Saturday, December 7th, several Idaho BHA volunteers joined a large contingent of sagebrush seed collectors in the foothills just outside Boise. The volunteers donned leather gloves and spent hours stripping off sagebrush seeds from healthy sagebrush while enduring wet and windy conditions. At the end of the day, the group managed to collect 4 full bags of seed, which amounts to many thousand individual seeds. This seed will be sent to the Lucky Peak Nursery to dry out and then be used for fire rehab efforts on big game winter range. This program helps sagebrush ecosystems rebound from fire damage quickly, which benefits all the wildlife that depend on sagebrush for food and cover.
A shout-out goes to the volunteers from the Boise State University BHA club who participated. And a special thanks to the folks that provided the delicious cookies that kept the crew fueled up!