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Demonstration gardens help Idaho Firewise educate the community

Fire safety and land preservation are essential, no matter where you live or what your recreational interests are. You can make a difference on your own property or in nature’s backyard. The key is to learn about the plant life around you, why it’s significant, and how to protect it.

Native plants are both beautiful and valuable to the land and wildlife around them. These plants can bounce back after natural disasters when the conditions are favorable, or active reforestation can help restore them when the damage is too significant. They range from conifer and hardwood trees to shrubs and grasses, and all are vital in maintaining and restoring their gene pools, supporting ecosystems, and preventing species loss in North America.

Any species that has existed since the time of European settlement is considered native to North America. In Idaho, a variety of native plants are spread out across eight ecoregions. Some of those regions receive more than 25 inches of rain each year, and others receive less than 10 inches per year. Regardless of average rainfall, all plants can ignite if the conditions allow it. Try choosing fire-resistant plants instead of plants that are highly flammable when planting in your yard. The best choices are plants that don’t contain oils and resins or accumulate dead material. They should have a compact growth habit and should be drought-tolerant.

You can also increase your fire awareness and have fun doing it by visiting one of Idaho’s several demonstration gardens. A demonstration garden is a collection of plants designed to teach and learn. There are many demonstration gardens around the world. They range from small gardens that focus on one species to majestic botanical gardens that demonstrate the global importance of plants. Informational signs are posted throughout the gardens, covering topics like water conservation, pollinator preservation, food production, and other history and facts about the plants featured there.

Idaho Firewise takes demonstration gardens a step further by promoting low-ignition landscaping so that visitors are properly educated on wildfire threats and caring for their yards. There are several Idaho Firewise demonstration gardens throughout the state, which feature different designs as well as plant selection. Idaho Firewise can also help you protect your yard with these organization and maintenance tips.

The impact you can have on the environment isn’t limited to the plants you add to your yard. The Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly programs encourage you to care for the wildlife around you and consider your impact on the environment, no matter where you go on your adventures. When you’re enjoying the splendor of the outdoors, take a moment to reflect on your actions. Are you picking up your trash? Are you recklessly damaging the area where you’re driving or camping? Are you fully extinguishing any fires you start?

The nationally-recognized Firewise USA Program exemplifies all of these fire safety themes. The program is comprised of communities and neighborhoods of all different sizes and appearances and is dedicated to saving lives, property, and resources from wildfires and the devastation they can cause. Idaho currently holds 26 Firewise USA communities.

To learn more about becoming a Firewise USA community, you can read about the easy process here. The U.S. Forest Service is also an important educational resource for adults and children who are curious about wildlife, land management, and other topics.

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