Hailey nature preserve doubled in size
Land Trust closes deal on Darrow
By GREGORY FOLEY
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
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
The parcel is generally located southwest
of downtown Hailey, between War Eagle Drive and the east bank of the Big Wood
"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
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,
"Thanks to a community-wide effort, the
Land Trust was able to raise the funds for the property’s conservation," he
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.