top of page
A wooden fence surrounded by vibrant autumn colors in the forest with scattered leaves on the floor

Howard Preserve

In a collaborative effort between the Howard family, the City of Bellevue, and the Friends of the Howard Preserve, the Wood River Land Trust (WRLT) successfully safeguarded 12.5 acres of precious Big Wood River floodplain, nestled closely to Bellevue. Since 1972, the Howard family had stewarded this land, nurturing a vision of long-term preservation. Through concerted efforts, including securing grant funding and establishing a conservation easement, this parcel is now perpetually protected. In 2012, an opportunity arose to expand the urban sanctuary with the acquisition of 1.38 acres at the southern boundary of the Preserve, further fortifying the buffer against encroachment into the Big Wood River floodplain.


In 2017, WRLT and the City of Bellevue secured a vital grant from the Blaine County Land, Water & Wildlife Program worth $174,600.

This funding facilitated the acquisition of five lots totaling 1.38 acres within the Howard Preserve. Preventing the development of these lots was crucial, as it would have posed a significant threat to the conservation integrity of the surrounding area. As part of this initiative, Bellevue relinquished existing rights-of-way and incorporated additional riverfront land into the Preserve. The entire 36-acre expanse was then encased in a conservation easement, ensuring its perpetual protection.


These milestones—marked by the 2012 acquisition of the Harris Property and the 2017 acquisition of the Halverson and Gardner lots, along with additional City-owned land—underscore the ongoing commitment to preserve the Howard Preserve. This sanctuary remains a harmonious blend of wildlife habitat, public access to the Big Wood River, and opportunities for education and community engagement with the natural world.


At Howard Preserve, designated handicapped parking spaces located conveniently close to the footbridge offer ease of access for all visitors. Additionally, a mixed gravel path on the east side of the river provides a smooth and navigable route, allowing individuals of all abilities to explore and immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of the preserve. With these thoughtful accommodations, Howard Preserve welcomes all to experience the wonders of nature firsthand.


 beaver swimming with its head and lower back showing, surrounded by ripples


Visitors to Howard Preserve are treated to a diverse array of wildlife, offering glimpses into the natural wonders of the area. Among the ancient trees and along the winding riverbanks, sightings of majestic bald eagles soaring overhead are common, while the rustle of squirrels and the rhythmic tapping of woodpeckers provide a lively soundtrack to the forest. As the sun sets, the haunting calls of owls echo through the trees, adding an air of mystery to the surroundings. And for the observant visitor, the chance to witness the remarkable sight of a turkey vulture rookery, a nesting haven high above, serves as a poignant reminder of the preserve's role in providing sanctuary for all its inhabitants, including the graceful deer that roam its tranquil paths.


The preservation of Howard Preserve stands as a crucial endeavor, woven into the fabric of both environmental conservation and community sustainability. Situated amidst a network of walkable Big Wood areas, its preservation not only safeguards vital wildlife habitats but also fosters connectivity within the broader ecosystem. Moreover, as an integral component of the irrigation infrastructure delivering water to the Bellevue triangle, its protection ensures the continued sustenance of agricultural endeavors and local livelihoods. Recognizing its significance, the Wood River Land Trust (WRLT), Trout Unlimited (TU), and the irrigation company have joined forces to restore the dam and diversion structures, enabling the passage of fish and promoting the health of aquatic ecosystems. By preserving Howard Preserve, we uphold a delicate balance between ecological integrity, recreational enjoyment, and the sustainable management of vital resources for generations to come.

A tranquil autumn scene featuring a pond with reflections of surrounding trees in vibrant fall colors, with snow capped mountains in the background
Group of hikers with a dog walking on a mountain trail with scenic landscape in the background


Embark on diverse outdoor adventures at Howard Preserve – a sanctuary of both excitement and serenity. Lace up your hiking boots or gear up for thrilling biking, exploring enchanting trails through meadows, ancient groves, and alongside the tranquil Colorado Gulch stream. Immerse in nature's beauty, rejuvenating senses and nurturing the soul.

For water lovers, indulge in fishing along pristine waterways. Each cast connects with the aquatic world. Whether seasoned or novice, all are warmly welcomed, fostering a profound connection with the river's rhythm.

Elevate birdwatching as the preserve unveils avian marvels. From majestic raptors to vibrant songbirds, each step reveals the captivating tale of feathered residents.


Green icon of a heart and brain


While dogs are welcome, kindly clean up after them to protect water quality. Keep your furry friends under voice control, ensuring a peaceful coexistence with both other visitors and the local wildlife.

green heart hand icon


A simple smile and wave can go a long way in fostering a sense of camaraderie. Greeting fellow explorers with kindness creates an atmosphere of unity and appreciation.

green awareness icon


As you traverse the trails, stay mindful of your surroundings. By respecting the natural habitat and its inhabitants, we create an environment where both humans and wildlife can thrive in harmony.

green icon of a hand holding a mountain


Please be aware that there are currently no restroom facilities available within the Preserve. We advise all visitors to come prepared and plan accordingly for your outdoor adventure.


green no fire icon


Overnight camping, fires, and fireworks are not allowed. Let's cherish the untouched beauty of the Preserve for all to enjoy.

green icon of road bending through trees


To protect ecosystems, please avoid creating new trails. Stick to designated paths to minimize our impact.

green icon of a beaver


Other than fishing, we don’t want to encourage harassing wildlife.

green no smoking icon


For the safety of the environment and all visitors, smoking and open flames are not permitted.

green no atv icon


To preserve the tranquility of our haven, we ask that motorcycles and ATVs remain outside the Preserve.


green heart hand icon


The 2017 addition to Howard Preserve marks an exciting opportunity for future restoration efforts, with the potential to enhance the ecological vitality of the sanctuary. While concrete plans have yet to be solidified, the newfound sections of the preserve offer promising prospects for rejuvenation. Through careful stewardship and collaboration, there exists the vision to restore these areas to their natural splendor, fostering biodiversity and preserving critical habitats. With each step forward, we embrace the challenge of safeguarding this precious landscape, ensuring its resilience and beauty for generations to come.

green awareness icon


Currently, ongoing restoration efforts at Howard Preserve are focused on essential tasks such as weed control and land maintenance. These endeavors play a vital role in nurturing the health and resilience of the ecosystem, ensuring that native flora can thrive and invasive species are kept in check. By meticulously tending to the land, we uphold our commitment to preserving the natural integrity of this cherished sanctuary, creating a haven where wildlife can flourish and visitors can connect with the beauty of the natural world.


The Howard Preserve is located at 85 Martin Lane in Bellevue. To get there from downtown Hailey, head south on Main Street/Highway 75 for 4.7 miles. Take a right on Broadford Road followed by an immediate left onto Martin Lane. Follow Martin Lane past the big open parking lot to the small dirt parking lot at the end of the road. Keep an eye out for the signs directing you to the parking area!

bottom of page