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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002


Conservation easement protects a key stretch of Silver Creek

"This is one of the most critical properties on the main stem of Silver Creek."

Mike Stevens, South-Central Idaho program manager for The Nature Conservancy

One of the last unprotected stretches of the main stem of Silver Creek has been preserved with a conservation easement, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho reported Friday.

The conservation easement on the property, previously owned by Robert and Kathryn Gardner and Mary Ellen Drashner and sold to John and Elaine French, will protect 510 acres, including over one mile that fronts Silver Creek.

The property borders the Idaho Department of Fish and Game access area at Point of Rocks, northwest of Picabo, and other private lands already protected under conservation easements. The Nature Conservancy facilitated the transaction for the Frenches, who are donating an easement on the entire property.

"This is one of the most critical properties on the main stem of Silver Creek," said Mike Stevens, South-Central Idaho program manager for the Conservancy. "The property is the last remaining unprotected piece in an 8 mile stretch of the main stem that extends from the Conservancy's preserve to our furthest downstream easement. It was a missing piece in the puzzle that the Conservancy has sought to protect for years."

The easement will prohibit subdivision of the property and limit residential development to two homes and associated residential and agricultural outbuildings and must be placed well away from Silver Creek. One developed building envelope already exists on the property but could be moved to another site on the property if the current buildings are removed and the area restored.

Farming and ranching practices will continue with a required setback from the stream.

In addition to limiting development, the easement sets the stage for large-scale restoration of Silver Creek's riparian areas, Stevens said.

"The French conservation easement is a great example of private land conservation with significant long-term benefits to the public and to riparian and wetlands ecosystem," he said. "As part of the donation of the conservation easement, the French family and the Conservancy have agreed to work with other private landowners and the Fish and Game Department to restore native habitats and stream conditions where necessary, so we hope this will benefit the quality of the entire Silver Creek system."

Because the main stem of Silver Creek is a navigable waterway, the public may wade or canoe below the creek's high water line within the property. There will be no public foot access to Silver Creek via the property.

The Nature Conservancy is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Silver Creek Preserve this year. In that time, the conservancy has worked with 22 landowners to protect nearly 10,000 acres of stream side and agricultural lands.

"We first began visiting and exploring Silver Creek 25 years ago, when the Conservancy was just beginning its work in the valley, " said John French. "It is a great pleasure to become the stewards of this land and to become a part of the community's efforts to conserve a biologically rich and spectacular landscape. We are honored to contribute to the Conservancy's 25th anniversary by helping protect this key parcel."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.