Couple Protects 160 Acres
by Jason Kauffman
Conservation easement preserves salmon and steelhead habitat
The Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust has reached an agreement with Larry and Nan Stone to permanently protect 160 acres they own in Lemhi County along Big Springs Creek.
The conservation easement on land near the rural community of May in the Pahsimeroi Valley protects portions of Big Springs Creek and another unnamed creek that are both tributaries of the Pahsimeroi River, a news release from the land trust states.
The two streams flow across the Stone's property and provide 74 acres of riparian habitat for wildlife, including owl, mule deer, bald eagle, and long-billed curlew. The Big Springs easement also benefits bull trout, chinook salmon and steelhead, the group states.
According to the land trust, protecting natural stream processes is an important part of maintaining and improving fish habitat in the Pahsimeroi River and its tributaries.
"Big Springs provides migratory habitat for bull trout and a place for bull trout, chinook salmon and steelhead to raise their young," said Kathryn Goldman, Wood River Land Trust's project coordinator. "Protecting these riparian areas is a key part of keeping water clean and maintaining the cold temperatures these fish need to survive."
This is the land trust's first easement that protects chinook salmon and steelhead habitat. As residents of the Wood River Valley for over 30 years, the Stones enjoy the fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities in the Pahsimeroi Valley, which is tucked between the rugged Pahsimeroi and Lemhi mountain ranges east of Challis.
"Nan and I purchased the Big Springs property to be part of preserving the future of the Pahsimeroi Valley," Larry said. "It is one of the last undeveloped valleys in Idaho."
Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits a property's uses in order to protect its conservation values. While the landowner continues to own the property, the land trust forever holds the easement, even through changes in the property's ownership.
Property owners generally receive a reduction in the taxable value of their property when they agree to place a conservation easement on their land.
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