ADA COUNTY - After months of hard work, a group of women at the South Boise Women's Correctional Center are putting the final touches on a special project.
The inmates are working to keep the greater sage grouse off the Endangered Species List by helping grow native plants that will be used to restore the birds' native habitat.
The project began back in April, when inmates planted sagebrush seeds in thousands of containers. After being taking care of all summer, the seedlings are now ready to be planted in sage grouse habitat in Idaho and Wyoming.
The group worked Tuesday to pack the plants into boxes so they can be sent out and planted. The seedlings will now be delivered to Bureau of Land Management staff to help restore sage grouse habitats that were destroyed by recent wildfires.
Idaho Department of Correction officials say inmates planted a total of 30,000 plants, and about 95 percent of them made it through the entire summer.
Nancy DeWitt with the Institute for Applied Ecology has worked with the group for months, teaching them about ecology and the difference their work will make.
DeWitt says she appreciates the inmates' hard work and that it will go a long way to help.
"I think it's really nice to hear the women say that 'even though we are incarcerated, this is a good opportunity for us to help the environment and give something back to the community,'” said DeWitt. "That makes my heart feel really good too: We are not just doing a great conservation project, but we are helping out some inmates as well."
The inmates will package up the last seedlings and complete the project over the next few weeks.
There are still be some plants to package up and sent to areas in need. Over the next few weeks the inmates will finish up working on the project.
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