Heads Up, Hikers: Boise Parks and Rec, Volunteers, Will Plant More Than 600 Trees in Hulls Gulch on Saturday, March 30 

click to enlarge KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
In early March, Boise Parks and Recreation Foothills Restoration Specialist Martha Brabec led a group of Parks and Rec employees in ripping out a forest of Russian olive trees from the Hulls Gulch Reserve, a popular spot near Boise's Camel's Back Park. It was the second time they'd gathered to remove the the trees, following a first effort in November 2018.

"Russian olives are a non-native species that came over from Europe," said Brabec. "... Russian olives quickly overtake and out-compete native species, and they are inferior habitat for wildlife. Also, the leaves from Russian olives aren't readily biodegradable by the macro invertebrates in the soil, so they can have a really profound impact on the ecosystem from the very basis of the food chain all the way up."

With the offending trees removed, Brabec and her team will start work to restore the area Saturday, March 30, in partnership with Rotary District 5400 and Boy Scout Troop 100. They plan to plant more than 600 native trees in the reserve, returning it to a more natural state. Those seedlings include cottonwoods, willows and native bird-friendly shrubs like golden currants, serviceberries and syringas. In a press release, Boise Parks and Rec warned that the effort might change the recreation experience for trail users for much of the day.

"Volunteers will be working in areas near the Red Fox and Red-Winged Blackbird Trails," the release read. "...Weekend trail users should be aware that there will be work going on in these areas throughout Saturday morning and early afternoon."

Brabec said that hikers are still welcome in the area, though they should expect the trails to be a lot more crowded than usual.

"What it's going to look like is 100 people with shovels and work gloves and plants, digging holes and planting plants, and then putting little tree protectors around them," she said.

Through the fall, volunteers and Parks and Rec employees will return to the site to make sure invasive species don't overtake the seedlings, and keep them well-watered. Brabec said getting involved in the conservation process is as easy as keeping an eye on the Parks and Rec website, where the department will post volunteer opportunities. Here's a more detailed map of the area:

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