Friday, July 6, 2012

Wildlife levy board seeks new members

Members to aid conservation


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Land, Water and Wildlife Levy Advisory Board is looking for a resident who is passionate about conservation to serve on the board.

In 2008, Blaine County voters passed a $3.4 million two-year levy to help protect clean water, wildlife habitat and working farms and ranches in Blaine County.

Money is granted from the levy funds based on applications from landowners in partnership with nonprofit conservation organizations such as the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy.

The conservation organizations contribute half the cost of a conservation easement on approved projects, while levy funds make up the rest. Applications for these grants are sent to the board, which makes recommendations to the Blaine County commissioners, which approves the projects and disperses the funds.

The first project, a 1,114-acre easement on John and Diane Peavey's Flat Top Ranch near Carey, was designed to protect sage grouse habitat by eliminating development rights on the easement itself. The easement does allow limited grazing, but protects an important wildlife corridor that is part of one of the longest pronghorn antelope corridors in the West.

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Blaine County contributed $217,000 in levy funds to match a contribution from The Nature Conservancy.

Clare Swanger, program coordinator from the county's Land, Water and Wildlife Program, said in a press release that five applications are currently under consideration: one that would protect a working ranch as well as big-game and sage grouse habitat in Carey, one to conserve antelope migration corridors in the Little Wood River valley and three restoration projects in the Silver Creek watershed to improve water quality and rainbow trout and Wood River sculpin habitat.

According to the Land, Water and Wildlife Program's board application, the board member will work with county staff to review and recommend conservation projects, collect guidance from the public regarding these applications, attend twice-monthly meetings and serve for two years.

The board member will replace former member Mary Austin Crofts, who resigned earlier this year. The board member will be appointed by the county commissioners

The deadline for applications is July 11. Applications can be found at www.processblaine.wix.com/blainelwwp or can be obtained by contacting Swanger at 208-309-0960.

Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

Nutty for conservation stories?

For a longer article on the Peaveys' conservation efforts, search "Forever Green" on our website, www.mtexpress.com, or dig up your Jan. 27 issue.




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