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For the week of April 25 through May 1, 2001

The Nature Conservancy announces $20 million campaign

Express Staff Writer

The Idaho branch of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will unveil today what it claims is the largest private conservation effort in Idaho’s history.

The fundraising and land conservation initiative, called "For Idaho Forever, a Campaign for Conservation," is directed at raising $20 million for land preservation and conservation-related projects on and around seven of TNC of Idaho’s conservation sites.

Of the total, $8 million will go toward habitat restoration, education efforts and community collaboration, and $12 million will be used to secure protection of key land parcels.

The icing on the cake is that the conservancy has already raised $18 million mostly from its members. An anonymous donor chipped in $1 million, the largest single donation to TNC ever, earmarked for water protection at Box Canyon in the Hagerman Valley.

The fundraising campaign, begun two years ago and was in a "silent phase" until now. It will go public at a kickoff party at The Rose Room in Boise tonight, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. All TNC members are encouraged to attend.

"To achieve long-term conservation of our state’s biodiversity, we must work on entire functional landscapes," TNC of Idaho director Geoff Pampush stated in a press release. "We all hope all who love Idaho will join us in this effort to protect our natural heritage."

Silver Creek Preserve, a local TNC site boasting world-famous trout fishing, and the area surrounding Silver Creek are slated to receive more than $750,000 from the effort.

The Silver Creek funds will be used to create a habitat restoration and research fund, capital campaign assistant Amy Olson said. That fund will be used to work with landowners to continue to protect the watershed by obtaining easements from landowners or by helping with restoration efforts on private land with cooperating participants.

The fund could also be used to do additional research on the aquifer connection between the Big Wood River and Silver Creek’s springs, Olson said.

"We need to be involved in decisions about the ways the water’s going to be used," she said.

Slated projects go far beyond Silver Creek, however.

The seven priority landscapes earmarked for "For Idaho Forever" projects are: the upper Henry’s Fork River, vanishing rivers (Big and Little Lost rivers and Birch Creek), the Owyhee canyonlands, Hells Canyon, north Idaho wetlands, the middle Snake River and Silver Creek.

"Scientific data confirms that these areas are among the most biologically intact, yet imperiled, landscapes in Idaho," TNC stated in a press release.

TNC is a private, international, non-profit organization established in 1951 to preserve Mother Nature’s natural diversity. To date, TNC of Idaho manages 20 preserves and has protected more than 220,000 acres. Its state office is in Ketchum.




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