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Brush for Bucks

Supporting groups that protect wildlife, wild places and hunter heritage is a critical part of our conservation efforts. But sometimes, it’s easier to do work yourself.

In the Northern Rockies, migratory elk, deer and antelope rely on low elevation, south facing slopes to make it through winter. These places allow them to conserve precious fat stores and feed on browse such as sage and bitterbrush. Unfortunately, winter range is vulnerable to wildfire. Once the native shrub community burns, it is often replaced with invasive cheatgrass and medusahead rye. These plants have little value to wildlife and often outcompete the next generation of shrubs. It may take decades for beneficial plants to return.

This cycle of fire and invasion can degrade the value of winter range in Idaho, but planting young brush seedling can give the shrub community a jump start. This growth helps big game through winter. First Lite's Brush for Bucks initiative is working to reverse this trend by rehabilitating big game winter range in south central Idaho. Each fall, the company purchases thousands of sage and bitterbrush seedlings to be planted by our employees on degraded range just south of our office in the Wood River Valley. Planting native plants supports the game populations our employees hunt. Plus, getting your hands dirty to support wildlife feels pretty dang good.

First Lite eCommerce director, Tag Spenst, fans out to plant sagebrush seedlings across the hillside. Sagebrush planted high on the slope will eventually rain seed downhill, slowly helping plants to recolonize the hillside and provide critical winter browse for mule deer.

An Artemisia tridentata seedling destined for the ground, a small step towards supporting Idaho mule deer in winter.

1000 ft. up their local Idaho hillside, First Lite employees plant sagebrush seedlings. Ida the vizsla, approves of their work.

Customer service rep, James Conrad, drives his dibble bar into the hillside. These tools are used to wedge open a hole to plant a seedling and then to close the opening once the plant is in the ground.