Zoo Boise fund will help repair Table Rock fire damage

Scenes from the Table Rock fire

Firefighters battle an early morning blaze in June 2016.
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Firefighters battle an early morning blaze in June 2016.

Zoo Boise is known for providing conservation funds for wildlife preservation efforts around the country and the world. Now the zoo’s well-known conservation fund will help repair Boise’s own “backyard,” or Table Rock, devastated after a recent accidental fire.

Zoo Boise and the Friends of Zoo Boise will contribute $100,000 from the fund to replant native vegetation in the recently burned area.

The city of Boise and Ridge to Rivers partnership will use the money to buy native plant native seeds and seedlings that can be transplanted on-site next spring. Zoo Boise, which is part of the Boise Parks and Recreation Department, will organize volunteers to help with the planting.

“While the burning of the Table Rock area was difficult for the community to witness, it does provide us with an opportunity to re-establish native plants that are critical for wildlife,” said Mayor David Bieter in a press release. “Restoring the Table Rock area will be a multi-year process and involve many partners. We are thrilled that funds from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund will be used to help us restore one of our community’s most important places.”

In recent years, Zoo Boise’s conservation fee, charged as part of the zoo’s admission and costs for certain zoo activities, has become a national model for providing funding to conservation efforts. It also has played a role in a national conversation about changing the zoo from a place to learn about animals, to a tool for ensuring their future.

To date, Zoo Boise’s conservation fee has contributed about $2 million to global conservation efforts, including restoring habitat and wildlife in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park after a civil war. These funds are designated to help protect wildlife in Idaho and around the world.

“Table Rock is not only one of the most iconic parts of our community, it is also home for native wildlife including mule deer, bobcats, red fox, rabbits, ground squirrels, coyotes, and badgers,” said Steve Burns, director of Zoo Boise. “Native raptors and songbirds use Table Rock and the surrounding foothills, so we are pleased to let our visitors and the entire community know that their visit to Zoo Boise is more than a fun afternoon. Their trip to the zoo translates directly into wildlife conservation.”

The Friends of Zoo Boise, which helps manage the conservation fund, approved funding the Table Rock revegetation effort at a special meeting Wednesday.

Authorities are still investigating the Table Rock fire that began around midnight on June 30 after fireworks ignited dry brush in the area and burned 2,500 acres. The fire burned one home and outbuilding.