Idaho Fish and Game is looking for help planting thousands of seedlings during March at a number of locations across southern Idaho.
The planting projects will begin Saturday, March 2, with additional Saturdays scheduled for March 9, 16, 23 and 30.
Transportation and planting tools will be provided. Volunteers need no experience, but they are advised to dress for the weather and wear boots and bring gloves.
For details about the planting projects, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Fish and Game, contact volunteer coordinator Michael Young at 327-7095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer information also is available on the agency's website at fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/volunteer.
During the annual projects, volunteers have planted nearly three-quarters of a million bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings during the past 23 years to return native plants to Southwest Idaho and help rejuvenate areas burned by wildfire.
In addition to saving Fish and Game hundreds of thousands of dollars, volunteers have restored hundreds of acres of winter range that is critical for wildlife.
Bitterbrush and sagebrush are native shrubs and an important component of big game winter ranges in Idaho and throughout the West.
Besides providing essential food for deer, elk and other wildlife, bitterbrush and sagebrush provide cover from the weather and from predators, while also providing nesting habitat for birds and hiding places for small mammals.
Even large animals, such as deer and elk, find shelter among mature stands of bitterbrush and sagebrush during winter storms, said Evin Oneale, regional conservation educator with Fish and Game.
Shrubs provide protection from wind and snow, allowing the animals to conserve precious body fat they need to survive the lean winter months, he said.
Because of their deep-rooted structure, native shrubs provide for soil stabilization, reducing erosion.