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Land Trust News

Wildfire Not Associated with Wetland Controlled Burn

On March 31, 2015, a small wildfire occurred on City of Hailey property, just north of the Wood River Land Trust's Draper Preserve. The fire was contained by local fire departments within a few hours of starting, and did not spread onto Land Trust property.

This wildfire was in no way connected to the controlled burn that was conducted on the Draper Preserve earlier in the month, which was was part of a restoration project in the Wetland. The controlled burn was facilitated on March 19th, a full 12 days prior to this fire, and was completely extinguished that same day.

Lastly, there was at least one precipitation event between the date of the controlled burn and this recent wildfire, and the ignition site of the wildfire was over 500 feet away from Land Trust property.

Student led restoration effort a success

The Student Conservation Council’s (SCC) two day restoration project, Students for Seedlings, at the Greenhorn Gulch trailhead was a spectacular success.  With huge thanks to the U.S. Forest Service(USFS), students from local schools and community volunteers, we planted 1,500bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings on 20 acres of which we hope 70-80% survive.Additionally, we raked and seeded approximately 5 acres with native grasses and forbes. 

SCC member, Callie Weber commented, “Ever since the fire last year we have been looking for a way to help repair the damage. We’ve worked really hard and are really excited to help out our community.” Members of SCC learn about land conservation, restoration projects and non-profit governance.

Thank you to the many helping hands for assisting us. We look forward to spring to see the new growth take hold.

Large, undeveloped Wood River Valley acquired
10,400-acre property to be managed for wildlife, ranching and recreation

HAILEY,ID — One of the largest undeveloped properties in the Wood River Valley, Rock Creek Ranch, is now conserved for wildlife, clean water and public access thanks to the efforts of local landowners, public agencies and community groups.  

The ranch, owned by the Rinker Family, was recently sold to Wood River Land Trust(WRLT) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at a fraction of its fair market value in an effort to conserve it for future generations. Ranch brokerage Hall and Hall facilitated the sale.

The Rinkers’ work to preserve the ranch started with a conservation easement purchased by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect sage-grouse habitat and grazing land. Funding for the Grassland Reserve Program easement came from the agency’s Sage Grouse Initiative.

“Protecting this ranch is a landmark achievement. We are deeply grateful to the Rinker family for making such a wonderful and lasting gift to our community and wildlife possible,” said Scott Boettger, Executive Director of Wood River Land Trust. “Without their generosity, patience and determination we would not have achieved such a wonderful result, benefiting Wood River Valley visitors and residents alike,for generations to come. I can't think of a more honorable legacy.”

The10,400-acre ranch encompasses the entire Rock Creek drainage southwest ofHailey and consists of high-quality sagebrush-steppe habitat, aspen forest, and river miles along Rock Creek. The protection of the area aligns with state and federal efforts to conserve sage grouse through landscape-scale habitat improvements. The project expands the bird’s protected habitat in the central Idaho area to more than 70,000 acres in the Pioneer Mountain area.

WRLT and TNC leveraged private funding together with $3.7 million in public funds from NRCS to purchase, conserve and manage Rock Creek.

“The ranch provides critical habitat for sage grouse, specifically breeding and brood- rearing habitat,” said Jeff Burwell NRCS State Conservationist. “The addition of the ranch to Idaho’s conservation easement portfolio is a step toward keeping the sage-grouse off the endangered species list and keeps working lands working.” 

Long valued for its benefits to people and nature, Rock Creek Ranch will continue to be conserved for sage grouse and managed for ranching and public use. The grazing leases on the ranch will continue through the ownership changes. 

“Our family is pleased to know that this land will be managed in perpetuity as a working landscape with its conservation values conserved and appropriate access maintained,” said Bart Rinker. “We are honored to leave this gift to a community we value and love.”

The project illustrates the power of partnerships and leveraging public and private funding to achieve conservation at a larger scale.

“We believe in the power of collaboration as an important tool for achieving lasting and meaningful conservation for Idaho,” said Toni Hardesty, Conservancy state director. “Rock Creek Ranch is an example of how individuals and groups with diverse interests can come together to protect our state’s very special places, so they can be enjoyed by people and wildlife.”

Along-term goal for the project is for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to own and manage the property. WRLT and TNC submitted a proposal to obtain funding from the Blaine County Land, Water and Wildlife Program to help Idaho Fish and Game purchase the property.   

Students for SEEDLINGS

Wood River Land Trust Student Conservation Council raised funds over the summer to help restore public lands at Greenhorn from the effects of the Beaver Creek fire. All donations were tax-deductible and will  help the U.S. Forest Service purchase sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings and native seed mix.

Replanting natives will help mitigate the impacts from the fire by:

* Stabilizing soil to prevent or diminish the size of mudslides;
* Decrease amount of silt in the river caused by runoff from rain
storms; and
* Promote the growth of native species to help combat invasive

Goals include:
* Plant 20 acres with student volunteers in Fall 2014; and
* Raise $800 or more to buy plants/seeds and cover overhead


East Fork Preservation Association Donates 7.5-acres to Wood River Land Trust
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Wood River Land Trust       119 East Bullion Street       Hailey, Idaho 83333
208.788.3947 phone       208.788.5991 fax
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