Friday, October 24, 2014

F&G to fund Rock Creek Ranch purchase

Request withdrawn for Land, Water and Wildlife money

Express Staff Writer

    Though the Idaho Department of Fish and Game surprised the public Tuesday by withdrawing its request for $1.1 million from Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife fund, purchase of the Rock Creek Ranch and creation of a wildlife management area there are expected to proceed as planned.
    Formerly owned by the Rinker family, the 10,400-acre property southwest of Hailey is temporarily owned by the Wood River Land Trust as part of a complex arrangement to turn it over to public use. The final step was to be a $2.2 million payment, split between the county and the department.
    A county commissioners meeting scheduled for Tuesday night to consider a draft agreement for the purchase was abruptly canceled that afternoon.
    Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said the department decided to expedite the process by funding the purchase on its own. He said that as far as he knows, the decision had nothing to do with conditions on management of the property proposed by Blaine County.
    “This came down to just wanting to move the process along,” he said.
    Keckler said the additional $1.1 million will come from one of two sources—a $40 million habitat mitigation grant from the Bonneville Power Administration or money raised through a federal tax on firearms and ammunition production. The money collected is distributed to the states to protect wildlife habitat. Keckler said more money has been raised than was anticipated due to recent strong sales of guns and ammunition.
    County Commissioner Larry Schoen said that even though he’s pleased that the Land, Water and Wildlife fund will save $1.1 million, he’s disappointed that the deal fell through.
    “A lot of time and effort has gone into a project that has widespread support in Blaine County,” he said.
    Schoen said he thought the deal was almost finalized.
    “I thought the [county’s and department’s] documents were extremely close and the outstanding issues would be resolved in very short order,” he said. “I thought we were pretty much there. I was frustrated by the sudden withdrawal of the application.”
    Clare Swanger, project coordinator for the Land, Water and Wildlife program, said Fish and Game representatives had on numerous occasions expressed discomfort with the public process involved with hammering out a management agreement. She said an open process was required for the expenditure of the public fund, which was raised through a two-year, $3.4 million assessment on county property taxes passed by voters in 2008 to help protect clean water, wildlife habitat and open space.
    However, she said, the program was meant to provide matching funds for projects that would not otherwise be completed.
    “The $1.1 million remains available for other great conservation projects in the county,” she said. “This is a great outcome for the citizens of Blaine County.
    “The commissioners were excited about this and wanted to be a part of it, but from my perspective, this route was a little simpler for Fish and Game. The vast majority of what the county commissioners wanted is going to occur anyway.”
    Keckler said the department intends to create a wildlife management area on the property as soon as possible. He said a management plan will be drafted for approval by the Fish and Game Commission with opportunities for input from the public and the county.
    Swanger said she encourages people who care about the area to get involved in that process.

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2022 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.