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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003


Hailey nature preserve doubled in size

Land Trust closes deal on Darrow property

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust last week officially closed a deal to purchase a 2.2-acre property in Hailey that will serve to enlarge a protected corridor of lands along the Big Wood River.

Scott Boettger, executive director of the Land Trust, and Dan Gilmore, development director of the nonprofit organization, announced Friday, March 28, the purchase of the Darrow Property that includes 2.17 acres of undeveloped land immediately south of the organization’s Cedar Bend Preserve.

The parcel is generally located southwest of downtown Hailey, between War Eagle Drive and the east bank of the Big Wood River.

"This acquisition nearly doubles the size of the Wood River Land Trust’s Cedar Bend Preserve, protects critical wildlife habitat and floodplain from development, and gives the public a new access point to the river," Gilmore said.

The Cedar Bend Preserve is approximately 2.2 acres.

The organization paid $245,000 for the property. It had been marketed for $395,000, before landowners Ben and Judy Darrow last October agreed to sell it to the Land Trust at a reduced price, Gilmore noted.

"Thanks to a community-wide effort, the Land Trust was able to raise the funds for the property’s conservation," he said.

Gilmore noted that the land provides excellent habitat for wildlife, including moose, deer, river otter and numerous species of birds, such as bald eagles.

Gilmore and Boettger said the acquisition is a key component to the establishment of a mile-long stretch of protected riverfront along Hailey’s western border.

The parcel is situated in the middle of the land trust’s Hailey Greenway Project, which seeks to restore and protect riparian lands from Croy Creek Road south to the city’s defunct Riverside Treatment Plant. The Land Trust, the city of Hailey and the state of Idaho all hold ownership to protected properties in the corridor.

The site of the decommissioned city sewage-treatment plant is being restored to a natural condition for use as an extension of the city’s Heagle Park. The project is being conducted as a joint effort by the Land Trust and the city.

Land Trust officials noted that the land preservation in Hailey is a critical element of the organization’s larger plan to establish a network of protected public and private lands that lie along the entire 65-mile length of the Big Wood River.

That project—called the Big Wood River Greenway Project—is designed to create a continuous stretch of protected land in the river corridor that can be used by people and wildlife. The land trust is seeking to purchase certain key properties in the corridor, but is using the acquisition of conservation easements from private landowners as its main tool.

"Having this stretch of protected riverfront land in Hailey is key in realizing the vision of the Big Wood River Greenway Project," Gilmore said.


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