The coming days and weeks will be very important for us, and future generations of Wood River Valley residents as the County Commission considers the Cove Springs development proposal that would place an urban development in a rural, agricultural area.
Nearly 30 years ago next week, I drove over Timmerman Hill for the first time on my way to an assignment up in Salmon. I'll never forget the magnificent landscape that I saw after coming over the hills. Cottonwoods turning a brilliant yellow, golden fields of grain stubble, and vast flocks of mallards, geese and sandhill cranes flying in from their morning feeding grounds. It struck me so hard that I made a detour and turned right on Highway 20, then right again a few miles down the road to where The Nature Conservancy (unknown to me at the time) had just purchased 480 acres of land and river on the headwaters of Silver Creek. I spent the day taking photos of birds flying in to roost and trout rising to autumn mayfly hatches. And here I am three decades later, still devoted to restoring and doing what I can to help improve that very special ecosystem.
For the Blaine County Commission, I ask that you take very seriously and put on the table, the proposal of Cove Springs developers to place a conservation easement on the ranch. No local or reputable statewide conservation organization that I know of would accept that "gift," even with a $200,000 management fund "incentive." The reason being, conservation easements were created and designed to be altruistic gifts and sacrifices made by landowners for the betterment of the community and the environment. The Cove Springs proposal fails on both of those counts. The offered easement is nothing more than a PR ploy and should be recognized as such. Furthermore, it insults the charitable intent of the dozens of neighboring landowners who have stepped up to the plate over the past 20 years and donated easements on thousands of surrounding acres with the proper intent and end result. Please take this into consideration as you deliberate on the Cove Springs proposal.