Friday, October 10, 2014

Students to help replant Greenhorn

Part of Forest Service effort to recover burned areas

Express Staff Writer

     A group of local students is seeking volunteers of all ages to help with a replanting effort in Greenhorn Gulch following the Beaver Creek Fire.

     The fire burned 174 square miles of pristine backcountry on the west side of the Wood River Valley in August 2013. Most of Greenhorn Gulch was blackened.

     On Friday, Oct. 17, the Wood River Land Trust’s Student Conservation Council will replant 20 acres on public land near the Greenhorn trailhead. A $5,000 federal grant administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and funds raised through the group’s Students for Seedlings project paid for 1,000 sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings and five acres worth of native seed mix.

     “After seeing all the hard work the firefighters put in to save this valley, it is fulfilling to be able to contribute to the restoration and do our part,” said Alex Harten, a senior at the Community School and a founding member of the group. “We hope to motivate our friends, other students and adults to help with the planting.”

     There are seven Student Conservation Council members representing all high schools in the valley. On Friday, Oct. 17, the group will organize about 120 students in kindergarten through high school to help with the restoration.

     However, community help is needed on the second day of planting, Saturday, Oct. 18, from 1-4 p.m.  Volunteers of all ages are welcome.

     Replanting native plants helps to mitigate the impacts from fire by:

  • Stabilizing soil to prevent or diminish the size of mudslides.
  • Decreasing the amount of silt in the river caused by runoff from rainstorms.
  • Helping to combat invasive species expansion.

     Space is limited for the community volunteer day on Saturday, and people can reserve their spot by contacting For more information, visit or call Patti Lousen at 788-3947.

     Student Conservation Council members take field trips, including fly-fishing outings, to learn about land conservation and river restoration at the Land Trust’s conservation easement properties and preserves.

     The student project is part of a larger effort by the U.S. Forest Service to plant 30,000 seedlings in the Imperial Gulch, Deer Creek and Willow Creek drainages during an eight- to 10-day period beginning late this month. The seedlings were grown this summer at a Forest Service nursery near Lucky Peak Reservoir.

     Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said the planting is timed to get the sagebrush and bitter brush into the ground before it freezes, yet late enough that the plants will immediately go into dormancy.

     “If we can get them into the ground and they don’t get active, they have a much better chance of surviving,” he said.

     Last November, seeding was applied by plane to about 5,900 acres in Greenhorn Gulch, Deer Creek, Curran Gulch in the Croy Creek drainage and Alden and Badger gulches in the Warm Springs drainage. Straw mulch was dropped by helicopter on about 570 acres in Greenhorn and Imperial gulches.

     Nelson said that from what’s been seen so far, the results of that effort look promising.

     “The germination was better than expected given how dry it was in May, June and July,” he said.

     Nelson said Forest Service employees still need to check the results of reseeding in the more remote areas.

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