Upland and waterfowl hunters may notice some things amiss at Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area this hunting season. But not as much as they might were they to visit the WMA over the summer.
Located at the confluence of the Boise and Snake rivers just northwest of Parma, the WMA took a beating this past year, not so much from the heavy snowfall, but rather the floodwaters that came in the aftermath. When spring snowmelt swelled the Boise River to flood stage, the river quickly overflowed its banks. A portion of that floodwater found its way into Sand Hollow Creek, the WMA’s aquatic artery.
For weeks Sand Hollow raged, flooding much of the WMA. Where water had a chance to spread out and lose its velocity, little evidence of flooding remains. But the WMA’s infrastructure adjacent to Sand Hollow Creek fared much worse. The flows put two footbridges out of commission, sliced through a roadway where an 18-inch culvert was normally adequate to carry water under the road, and scraped a nasty 4-foot-deep gash in the roadway leading to a popular boat launch on the Snake River.
Not to be outdone, the Boise River did its share of erosion work, carving out several tons of riverbank and obliterating a WMA water delivery system. This delivery system routinely filled Ralph’s and Teal ponds with duck-enticing water. “Of all the damage we suffered, that’s our biggest concern,” admitted Tyler Archibald, Fish and Game wildlife biologist and WMA manager. “There’s no easy or cheap fix for this one.” A timeframe for repairing the system has not been established; these ponds will remain dry indefinitely.
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Minor by comparison, the spring floods also kept fallow food plots at the south end of the WMA underwater or at least muddy. Archibald and his associate Brett Amdor were unable to work this ground during the spring, when wildlife food plots are normally planted. As such, the fields will remain fallow this fall and winter.
That’s the bad news. The good news is most of the damage will be repaired by Sunday, Oct. 1. “The footbridges will be back in commission by the end of September,” Archibald said. “We also plan to have the boat ramp road repaired by then.” All the trails used by upland and waterfowl hunters will be mowed and ready by Oct. 1.
And there’s a bonus. Fort Boise WMA will be stocked with an additional 1,600 farm-raised ring-necked pheasants this season, bringing the total to be stocked to 4,850 birds. The same holds for other regional wildlife management areas (Montour, CJ Strike and Payette River) — all will be receiving additional birds this year.
So despite the spring flooding, it will be business as usual for most fall users of Fort Boise WMA. Get out and enjoy a fun, safe fall hunting season.