50 Volunteers Tackle Idaho Deer Habitat at NDA’s First Working for Wildlife Tour Event

August 1, 2023 By: NDA Staff

NDA’s first Working for Wildlife Tour event with Meateater and Mark Kenyon of Wired to Hunt was a huge success! On Saturday July 29 at Idaho Panhandle National Forest, 50 volunteers answered our call to help improve deer habitat on public hunting land. 

Under the guidance of Idaho Fish & Game, the U.S. Forest Service, and NDA Stewardship Forester Brad French, volunteers were tasked with improving 10 acres of young aspen for deer and elk forage. The selected area included edges and openings near a recent timber harvest. Seedlings of lodgepole pine, cedar, fir and other conifers are colonizing the new openings, and they will quickly shade out aspen shoots. Using hand tools, volunteers clipped conifer seedlings to give aspen a fighting chance. Larger conifers up to about 8 inches in diameter were cut down with hand saws and stacked to form “fences” that will protect young aspens from early browse pressure.

Volunteers remove conifer seedlings to prevent them from shading and outcompeting aspen shoots, which provide deer and elk forage in forest openings on Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
In some cases, larger conifer saplings were hinge-cut or piled in fences to provide structure that shelters young aspen shoots from browsing.

Wearing helmets for safety and carrying bear spray for working in grizzly country, volunteers completed the 10-acre goal for the day. With the day’s work done, the crew headed to Kootenai River Brewery in nearby Bonners Ferry for cold Whitetail Ale, dinner and a social with Mark Kenyon and NDA staff members Matt Ross, Amber Kornak and Lindsay Thomas Jr. Mark distributed Working For Wildlife Tour t-shirts to volunteers to go along with NDA caps in FirstLite’s Specter camo pattern. 

Mark Kenyon of Wired to Hunt (left) speaks to the volunteers along with NDA Conservation Director Matt Ross. Mark distributed “I Work for Wildlife” t-shirts provided by Meateater.

“The NDA team members who traveled to Idaho had a great time getting our hands dirty alongside local volunteers who turned out to make a difference for deer,” said Matt Ross, NDA’s Director of Conservation. “We appreciate Mark Kenyon and MeatEater inviting us to partner with them to bring awareness to public land deer habitat.”

Jamie Karambay of Idaho volunteered for the event and brought along a future public land hunter to assist.

While the volunteer work day completed 10 acres, it is part of NDA’s larger Public Lands Initiative on national forests in multiple states. In Idaho alone, NDA’s partnership with the U.S. Forest Service has enabled the agency to complete deer habitat and forest improvement projects on hundreds more acres than they could have reached by this time alone. In all, NDA’s Public Lands Initiative has set a target of 1 million acres improved for wildlife by 2026.

NDA is hosting two more Working for Wildlife Tour events this year. Mark Kenyon will attend both of those as well, along with NDA staff members. Click here for more information

After the work was complete, volunteers joined Mark Kenyon (left, front) for cold Whitetail Ale at the Kootenai River Brewery in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.