Helping Works

Join the annual Snake River cleanup near Swan Falls Dam

The area around the Swan Falls hydroelectric dam on the Snake River south of Kuna is looking better, thanks to volunteers.
The area around the Swan Falls hydroelectric dam on the Snake River south of Kuna is looking better, thanks to volunteers.

Kevin Kern, a Caldwell resident, has been volunteering with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for about 15 years. After discovering a lot of trash blighting the river bank near Swan Falls Dam south of Boise, he got the idea of partnering with the department to organize an annual spring cleanup of the area. It’s time for the trip once again, and Kern and Fish and Game are inviting volunteers to join the trip.

Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, in the Swan Falls Dam parking lot. Kern expects good weather, but advises volunteers to dress appropriately for the weather, bring gloves, a lunch and something to drink. Fish and Game will provide the trash bags. The cleanup usually ends at around 1 p.m., but volunteers can stay as long as they wish, said Kern.

Swan Falls is roughly an hour’s drive south of Boise. The historic dam, built in 1901 to bring electricity to nearby Silver City, is known as the “grandfather” of Idaho Power’s hydroelectric plants. The area is home to dramatic vistas, along with birds and other wildlife.

In the years Kern has organized the volunteer outing, he’s noticed a decrease in trash. He once found big items: a water heater, mattresses, televisions, enough to fill two trucks with garbage. Recently, the outings have only collected enough trash to fill a single truck. That’s good news. Consider starting your spring right by helping out, or getting a jump on Earth Day 2016 on April 22.

Contact Kern with questions via email at or call 208-850-8261.

Shoreline Plaza garden revamp: now accessible to gardeners with disabilities

Shoreline Plaza in Boise’s River Street neighborhood, a low income apartment complex, is home to 83 residents who are either over 62 or over 18 and disabled. The complex has had an on-site community garden for some time, but the garden wasn’t suited for residents, the majority of whom have physical limitations and get around using walkers, canes, or who contend with arthritis. After chatting with one resident, Jennifer Pridmore, who uses a wheelchair and was looking wistfully at the garden, Boise City Ada County Housing Authority Service Coordinator Christa Nuxoll decided improvements were in order.

Nuxoll consulted with Dana Gover at the Northwest ADA Center, then got donated materials and labor from local companies, including Tuffy Excavation, Inc; Idaho Materials and Construction; McAlvain Construction; Home Depot and Rock Solid Civil. The garden recently got new concrete sidewalks with curb cuts to make them wheelchair accessible. Crews will soon install raised beds.

The number of residents who want to garden has risen from four to 16. “And I expect more people to sign up when they see the final product,” said Nuxoll. Residents are all on fixed incomes so growing tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots and more, she added, helps supplement their food budgets.

“They share with each other, and we’ve seen how gardening together builds a cohesive community,” said Nuxoll. “The residents are people in the lowest income bracket, right above homeless. There isn’t money for activities. For many of them, the garden is their only activity.”

The gardeners still need a few donations: cinder blocks, topsoil, four hoses, hand tools, gloves and starter plants. Contact Nuxoll at 208-941-3653 or if you would like to help.

The Boise Depot is turning 91. Clearly time for a party

Help celebrate the beloved Boise icon’s anniversary with free tours, snacks and a visit to the bell tower. Festivities are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, at the depot, 2603 W. Eastover Terrace.

Local railroad expert Eriks Garsvo will lead free tours at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Register online to reserve your spot. The Southern Idaho Garden Railway Society will display live model train exhibits, five vintage vehicles will be on display in the front parking lot, and visitors will be able to enjoy train-shaped cookies provided by Leslie Charles Events.

New York architects designed the depot, which opened in 1925 to much fanfare and delight of Boise residents.

Peer-led network supports families dealing with addiction

Learn to Cope is a peer-led support network that provides guidance for families dealing with addiction and recovery. The organization is offering ongoing weekly meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday nights in the upstairs meeting room at The Grapevine Community Recovery Center, 1518 W. Fort St. in Boise. Participation is free and anyone who is concerned about a loved one with addiction or in recovery is welcome to attend. Meetings typically include guest speakers who are experts in the addiction field. Books, DVDs and other resources are also available. Learn to Cope Idaho facilitator Ginny Gobel said the program is not meant to replace Al Anon or Families Anonymous, but to complement them. The program also includes instruction for administering Naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose. Contact Gobel for more information at or 208-869-0951.

Table Rock restoration update

Steve Vugrin, from Boise East Rotary Club, the group partnering with the Idaho Historical Society to rehabilitate Table Rock, said he’s been chatting with the folks at Boise High. The student council is planning to join the Adopt Table Rock program by scheduling a couple of cleanup days each year. One student, Clayton Richards, wants to restore the “B” on the hillside as his Eagle Scout project. Boise High students placed the “B” at the site many years ago. Vugrin said Richards has gotten approval from the Historical Society. He plans to reach out to other community groups and volunteers to help with the project. Contact Vugrin at for more information or to get involved.

6th Annual Community Progressive has booth space, needs volunteers

The 6th Annual Community Progressive will take place, hosted by United Action for Idaho, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 21 in Julia Davis Park.

The event is intended as an opportunity for small businesses, artisans, farmers, musicians and nonprofits to spread the news about their work toward the goal of a sustainable future.

Organizer Adrienne Evans, executive director of United Action for Idaho, said that booth space is available for nonprofits, merchants and food vendors. The organization also needs volunteers. If you or your organization is interested in being part of the event, contact Evans online at

The Progressive will offer workshops and information about how citizens can get involved in their local communities. The nonpartisan event is focused on community issues including sustainable food solutions, investing in local communities and building networks.