or many Teton Valley residents and visitors, recreating on the Teton River is a favorite pastime. Last week, the future for the river and its patrons became more secure. The Teton Regional Land Trust completed a conservation easement along the river protecting nearly 400 acres including ¾ of a mile of the river bank. With this recent protection, the Land Trust has now protected over 10,000 acres in the Teton Valley. Thanks to landowner Nancy Hamill Winter and her family, this incredible riverfront property will forever be protected from subdivision and large scale development.
The property, known as the Three Forks Ranch, lies along the stretch of the Teton River between the Bates Bridge and the Fish and Game Access at “Big Eddy” and is home to many important species like moose, deer, swans and native trout.
“Conservation of the Three Forks Ranch property is incredibly valuable to all who appreciate the scenic and natural resources in Teton Valley. The Three Forks Ranch easement and the other protected parcels around it conserve important habitat for many wildlife species including elk, moose, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, bald eagle, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout,” Steve Schmidt, Regional Supervisor, Upper Snake Region Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“As the State agency tasked with maintaining wildlife for the public to enjoy, Idaho Fish and Game is very grateful for landowners who are willing to preserve the wildlife and scenic values of their property for the community’s benefit. We are also grateful to the talented staff of Teton Regional Land Trust. No organization has done more to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and natural scenery along the Teton River,” Schmidt continued.
Conserving this property fills in one of the few remaining gaps in the protected lands already conserved along the Teton River. Local landowners have worked with the Teton Regional Land Trust since 1990 to protect over 27 miles of river bank along the river and its tributaries. This easement joins a cluster of 16 other easements that create a corridor of protection along the river that now stretches seven uninterrupted miles. The collective effort of many landowners ensures the scenic beauty, fishery and wildlife habitat that our community has loved for generations will remain.
“As a business owner who depends on the fishery in the Teton River and other regional waterways, I am truly appreciative of the efforts of the Land Trust and the generosity of so many landowners who continue to preserve the river corridor. Not only does this protection enhance the fishery, but also the lack of development along the banks gives the river a feel of remoteness and wildness that keeps my clientele returning to our valley year after year.”Mike Dawes Partner and Guide WorldCast Anglers.
Throughout this reach of the river, landowners have worked hard to preserve the agricultural values of the valley while balancing the needs of wildlife. Over the past 5 years nearly all the fencing on the Three Forks Ranch has either been improved to make it more wildlife friendly or removed entirely. The landowner has also provided for public access to the property and encourages the community to access the property respectfully on foot or by boat.
"I am humbled by the opportunity to help the community preserve critical wildlife habitat and agricultural lands along the Teton River. During the past fifty years, four generations of our family have visited, lived in and been inspired by the majestic Tetons,” Three Forks Ranch owner Nancy Hamill Winter explained. “So, we were very pleased to be able to work with the Teton Regional Land Trust and local partners who recognize the valuable contribution that the Teton River and surrounding lands make to the local economy and the greater Yellowstone ecosystem,” Winter continued.
"With this conservation agreement, we and other landowners in the Teton Valley are entrusting the land trust to preserve this very special place, in perpetuity. We appreciate that other families have made a similar commitment to private land conservation and stewardship in the area - we are happy to follow their example. I also want to personally thank the Teton Regional Land Trust. This project would not have been possible without knowledgeable land trust staff and dedicated volunteers who guided our family through this conservation easement process." Winter explained.
“Teton Regional Land Trust is proud to work with such conservation minded landowners, who share our vision for the future of the river and the Teton Valley.” Executive Director Chet Work explained.