In 2004, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded $2,500 to the Sawtooth Botanical Garden to pay for the design and installation of three interpretive signs in the garden's new riparian area. Visitors can now view the signs at the garden south of Ketchum.
Featuring colorful photos and information on plants and wildlife, the signs are in each of three streamside zones.
"We're really excited about the signs. (Wildlife Foundation Executive Director) Gayle Valentine is a wonderful person to work with," said Anita Northwood, director of Sawtooth Botanical Garden. "The photos are complimentary from Scott Earle, the author of "Idaho Mountain Wildflowers," Idaho Fish and Game, and other non-profits throughout the country. We did the research in-house, with help from master gardener Carol Blackburn. The graphic designer was Ben Everett, who's local. We also had the financial assistance from the Hemingway Foundation."
The new signs identify attributes of three distinct riparian zones found in the Big Wood River basin: the lowlands, located in the sagebrush steppe along Silver Creek; the lower montane, or mid-valley section among the cottonwoods and other deciduous trees; and the upper montane, which includes alpine meadows and stands of conifers.
Other improvements to the Sawtooth Botanical Garden include removal of invasive and undesirable plants, and the construction of a walkway, bench and two bridges along the spring-fed creek. The riparian zone will be used for children's educational programs. The Botanical Garden is also developing brochures explaining important features of healthy streamside areas and providing tips for creating and maintaining water gardens with native plants.
The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a Boise-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of natural resources, including fish, wildlife and habitat.
"We try to find good projects to support," said Mountain Express Publisher Pam Morris, who represents the Central Idaho area on the IFWF board.
The Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a public garden founded in 1994 by a small, local group of passionate gardeners and environmentalists. It's located at 11 Gimlet Road, off Highway 75, south of Ketchum.