The Teton Regional Land Trust continues to build conservation momentum along the Fall River in Fremont County. Last week, the Land Trust and the Kirkham family permanently protected 80 acres of the Kirkham’s farm with a conservation easement. The conservation easement is a legal agreement that allows for farming and ranching on the property but permanently restricts the type and amount of future development that can occur on the property.
This conservation easement lies near the Kirkham Bridge over the Fall River; a popular spot for anglers and boaters and will protect scenic views along the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road. The easement also protects wildlife habitat for migrating deer, elk and moose as well as resident animals like songbirds, hawks and grouse.
“It’s great to see additional land near the Fall River protected. More and more landowners along the Fall River are beginning to understand the unique value this area offers for both wildlife and agriculture and their interest in conservation is spreading”, commented Teton Regional Land Trust Land Protection Specialist, Renee Hiebert.
The Kirkham property lies in close proximity to over 1300 acres of previously protected lands near the Fall River adding to the growing preservation of vital habitat and agricultural lands in Fremont County.
Landowner, Dan Kirkham, conserved his property because in his words it is “…a good thing for the Country to make sure we don’t overdevelop our open spaces”.
Teton Regional Land Trust would like to thank the many generous contributors that made conservation of this property possible including the Kirkham Family and several other individuals and foundations interested in preserving land in Fremont County.
Thanks to willing landowners in Swan Valley, the Teton Regional Land Trust and the U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), another 200 acres of land is now available for wildlife habitat and public use on the Pine Creek Bench in Bonneville County.
Its sage- and grass-covered highlands easily visible from the South Fork Snake River between Pine Creek and Dry Canyon, the property provides habitat for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, mule deer and elk. A very deep well and watering trough offers a potential watering hole for wildlife in an otherwise dry landscape.
The Teton Regional Land Trust facilitated the sale of this property to BLM. Because the property lies within a national Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the BLM’s management objectives for the property and surrounding public land along the South Fork Snake River are to maintain high quality riparian habitat, provide critical nesting and wintering areas for bald eagles, and maintain high quality big game winter range. ■
A conservation easement now protects 800 acres of farm land and wildlife habitat just 13 miles from Yellowstone National Park, ensuring that vital big game migration paths remain a part of east Idaho’s wildlife heritage.
The easement protects property owned by Clen and Emma Atchley along the Fall River near the southwestern border of the national park. The easement protects a route used by elk, mule deer and moose to move from the park to escape winter’s heavy snowfall. It also protects two miles along the Fall River. Under the voluntary conservation easement, farming and ranching will continue on the property, contributing to the rural character and economy of the area.
Property along the South Fork of the Snake River owned by Jack E. Koon and Jack Lee Koon will be permanently protected after transfer of a conservation easement to the Bureau of Land Management. The Teton Regional Land Trust (TRLT) purchased the easement from the Koons. The land itself remains in the ownership of the Koon family.
“Dad could have sold this property for a lot of money,” Jack Lee said, “but it was more important to him that the lands stay in the family. Selling the conservation easement rewarded him for the way he’s taken care of it, helps with his retirement, and we keep the land.”
BLM Idaho Falls District Manager Joe Kraayenbrink thanked the Koon family for their decision to conserve their land. “Everybody benefits,” he said, “including future generations of Idahoans who enjoy spending time on the South Fork. Thanks to the Koon family, the views from the river will be as scenic in 50 years as they are now.”
The Pine Creek Bench in Swan Valley sits just above the South Fork of the Snake River. Because of its impressive wildlife values and scenic vistas, the Pine Creek Bench has been a conservation focus for several federal, state and non-profit organizations.
In late December, two properties totaling just over 900 acres were conserved. With help from the Teton Regional Land Trust and The Conservation Fund, the Idaho Falls District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) purchased two properties along the South Fork of the Snake River in Bonneville County, Idaho using federal Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF). Support from the Idaho congressional delegation helped to secure the federal LWCF funding to acquire the properties.
The Teton Regional Land Trust worked closely with both landowners to find permanent conservation options for the properties. Ultimately, The Conservation Fund purchased an 862 acre Pine Creek Bench property and on December 22nd transferred 304 acres of the lands to the BLM for long-term protection and management. The Conservation Fund intends to convey the 558-acre balance of the property to BLM in the future as federal funding becomes available. The property is located between the Pine Creek Canyon and the South Fork Snake River’s Conant Valley.
A 275-acre working ranch along the banks of the North Fork of the Teton River has been permanently protected with a conservation easement. The Harris Family, second and third generation ranchers, worked with the Teton Regional Land Trust and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conserve their land and its associated wildlife habitat for future generations. The purchase of the conservation easement was funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The land itself remains in the ownership of the Harris family.
“We wanted to keep our land in one big piece and to keep it just the way it is but we needed funds to allow us to do so,” Don Harris said “The Land Trust and the BLM made this possible for us.”
By protecting their property from development, the Harris Family has ensured their cattle ranch will remain the same for the third generation of their family and beyond. A conservation easement is a permanent legal agreement that protects important habitat from development, while ensuring that traditional ownership and land uses like ranching continue. The family views a conservation easement as an ideal way to protect the wildlife and scenic views of the property that they value.
wo of the last unprotected parcels of private land along the canyon stretch of the South Fork Snake River in Bonneville County are now conserved permanently, thanks to willing landowners and a strong conservation partnership.
More than 300,000 people visit the South Fork each year to enjoy world-class fishing and floating, abundant wildlife and one of the most scenic rivers in the West. Thanks to conservation projects like this, the South Fork’s going to stay that way.
This newly protected conservation easement, lying just south of the Teton Valley Overlook on Highway 33, will stay undeveloped while remaining in private ownership of the family who homesteaded the property in the late 1800’s. Protection of the property preserves the unique rural character of Teton Basin by preserving one of the Valley’s earliest cattle ranches while also protecting traditional landowner values.
On a sunny morning in early April 2008, Greg Burns invited staff from the Teton Regional Land Trust to tour his property - about 200 acres of pasture, farm fields and healthy cottonwood forests along the South Fork of the Snake River downstream of Twin Bridges in Madison County, Idaho. Armed with binoculars and accompanied by wildlife biologist Rob Cavallaro, Greg and TRLT staff were looking for birds.
They weren’t disappointed. Within a few hours, they had identified yellow warblers, Mac- Gillvary’s warblers, song sparrow, red-naped sapsucker, veery, ruby-crowned kinglet, Townsend’s solitaire, warbling vireo, eastern kingbird, cedar waxwings, Bullock’s orioles and Lazuli buntings mingling with the more common northern flicker, robins, black-billed magpie, European starling and black-capped chickadees. Belted kingfishers zipped along the river, while white pelicans and California and Franklin’s gulls flew overhead. A pair of wood ducks floated along the Reid Canal, Sandhill cranes foraged in the pastures, flipping over piles of manure in their search for grub. Osprey, kestrel, red-tailed hawk and Cooper’s hawk nested or roosted in the large cottonwoods.
Jefferson County landowners Ron and Hellen Merrill have partnered with the Teton Regional Land Trust to permanently preserve 400 acres of their land. Surrounded by Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Deer Parks Wildlife Management Unit and Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) Market Lake Wildlife Management Area, the Merrill property fills in a former gap in protected land along the main Snake River.
The 400-acre Merrill property was protected in a two-phase process. TRLT worked with Ron Merrill and his family using the BLM’s Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) funding to purchase the first 103 acres in a fee-title transaction that closed in August 2007.