Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making your lawn ‘trout friendly’

Wood River Land Trust will host series about sustainable landscaping


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Land Trust’s Jesse Steadman, left, and Kathryn Goldman show off a spot in Lion’s Park in Hailey that was once the site of a city dump but has now been restored. Today, the site just south of the baseball field in the park is a sea of tall grass and fast-growing cottonwood trees. Photo by David N. Seelig

Grassy lawns aren't generally considered habitable spots for trout, but that's just what the Wood River Land Trust hopes to make them.

In reality, the group just wants to make sure valley residents are doing everything they can to make sure their lawn-care practices are not harming the fish that swim in the Big Wood River and its tributaries. In the next two weeks, the organization will host a series of events to raise awareness of its "Trout Friendly Lawns" program.

Now in its third season, the program has convinced 75 property owners to reconsider how they take care of their lawns. That's up from just 40 participants earlier this spring.

Although there are many ways to make one's lawn more "trout friendly," the basic idea is to limit or, even better, eliminate the use of chemicals and fertilizers, reduce water use for irrigation and promote the planting of native plant species.

In Idaho, Blaine County is among the highest in terms of per-capita water use, said Kathryn Goldman, the land trust's project coordinator.

"It's not one of our strong points now," she said.

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On Wednesday, Goldman and Jesse Steadman, an Americorps summer intern working with the land trust, toured a trout-friendly-lawn demonstration project on the west side of Hailey. The project, the conclusion of a restoration project that saw 1,200 tons of concrete, glass and other debris removed from an old dump site in Lion's Park, also saw about a half-acre section restored to native meadow. Very few weeds can be spotted in the natural-looking meadow.

Upkeep on the site has been done without the use of chemicals, fertilizers or anything else except for actions such as volunteer weed pulling and a temporary irrigation system. Some of the weed work is being done with the use of cardboard, which is placed over weeds to smother them.

The land trust isn't asking people to give up their mowed lawns for wild and unruly meadows, either. Goldman said the Lion's Park project shows that people can have both their green lawns and protect trout from the harmful effects of excessive water use and chemical runoff.

"We're managing this without chemicals to show people it's possible," she said.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com

Trout Friendly Lawn series:

The Wood River Land Trust is hosting a series about sustainable lawn care. Here are the details:

· Wednesday, July 29, at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Carey. Learn about the trout friendly lawn program.

· Thursday July 30, 6-7 p.m., at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, south of Ketchum. Learn how to save water in five steps and about the soils of the Wood River Valley.

· Tuesday, Aug. 4, 6-7 p.m., at Green Antelope Gallery in Bellevue. Learn about lawn irrigation and xeriscape gardening.

· Thursday, Aug. 6, 6-7 p.m., at the Hailey Public Library. Learn about the impact of pesticide use.

· Saturday, Aug. 8, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Zaney's Coffee House on River Street in Hailey. Learn about sustainable landscaping options.






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