Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Land trust receives major easement

Conservation deal will protect 635 acres between Stanley and Challis

Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Wood River Land Trust The Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust has just been given a conservation easement on a 635-acre property in the Salmon River area between Stanley and Challis. Landowners Kathy and David Richmond donated the easement to protect the plants and wildlife that exist on the property, above.

The Wood River Land Trust has received a large conservation easement on a significant piece of wildlife habitat in the Salmon River country. The recently inked agreement will permanently protect 635 acres in the scenic river canyon near the small town of Clayton, between Stanley and Challis.

Over the course of the past 18 months, landowners Kathy and David Richmond and the Wood River Land Trust have worked together to create a voluntary conservation agreement to protect the plants and wildlife on the couple's land, which is known as Simba Springs.

The property is a private inholding—which means it's bordered on all sides by public land—and is home to a diverse array of wildlife and native plant species, a press release from the land trust states. The property provides habitat for elk, mule deer, peregrine falcon, black bears, mountain lions and wolves.

Wood River Land Trust Executive Director Scott Boettger noted how important such pieces of private property are in relation to nearby public lands.

"The integrity of wildlife habitat in southeast Idaho's extensive public lands depends in large part on protecting private land inholdings," Boettger said. "We are inspired by the Richmonds' dedication to their land."

Conservation easements are a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits a property's uses to protect its conservation values. While the landowner continues to own the property, the land trust forever holds the easement, even through successive changes in the land's ownership.

An obviously delighted Kathy Richmond expressed excitement that she and her husband's large property will remain as it now is, a valuable haven for the region's abundant wildlife.

"Our piece of heaven, Simba Springs, will now be protected, undisturbed, in perpetuity," she said. "We are thrilled that Wood River Land Trust has accepted the responsibility of protecting our property through a conservation agreement."

The Richmonds' agreement with the Hailey-based conservation group follows a particularly successful past year for the land trust. In January, the group received an anonymous donation of 672 acres on Cow Catcher Ridge, a landmark to travelers along the east side of Highway 75 between Hailey and Bellevue.

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