The Simmons conservation easement is made up of 138 acres of irrigated pasture and wetlands. The property is located along the east bank of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River south of St. Anthony, ID. Two wetlands were constructed by the landowner and the NRCS as part of a 35-acre Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) in 2004 to benefit waterfowl including trumpeter swans. These wetland features provide some breeding and foraging habitat for multiple waterbirds. However, cover by woody vegetation is marginal and waterbird breeding and foraging habitat is limited.
In 2007 TRLT partnered with the landowner to increase willow cover and improve breeding and foraging habitat for waterbirds. Objectives of this most recent project include: 1) Establish dense willow cover in close proximity to existing constructed ponds. Approximately 200 native willows were planted in localized areas. 2) Topsoil was hauled in and grasses were planted on side slopes of two constructed dikes to increase vegetative cover and limit weed establishment. 3) A wetland management plan was developed to guide management activities within the wetland area to benefit waterbirds and other wetland dependent species.
The Simmons’s conservation easement is monitored annually by the Teton Regional Land Trust. During annual stewardship visits to the property, staff notes any man-made changes that have occurred on the property in the last year and track wildlife and noxious weeds observed on the property. This feedback can help Mr. Simmons adaptively manage his wetland for maximum benefits to wildlife given his objective. ■