Landowner, Nature Conservancy & BLM Protect major Yellowstone Cutthroat Spawning Streams

BLM, Nature Conservancy protect Henry’s Lake corridor

Posted: February 10, 2015 5:17 p.m.


After nine years of effort, the Bureau of Land Management has secured a prized conservation easement on Henry’s Lake.

The easement will permanently protect the 565-acre Empey-Johnson Ranch.

In 2001, landowner Debbie Empey approached The Nature Conservancy about permanently protecting the land her father purchased in 1947. In 2006, Empey, The Nature Conservancy and BLM, began working to purchase the conservation easement with the agreement it later would transfer to BLM, once funding was available.

The easement was obtained by the Conservancy in 2012.

“This is a very common way the Conservancy works with BLM in eastern Idaho,” said Susanna Danner, director of protection for the Conservancy’s Idaho chapter. “Sometimes the Conservancy can work faster if we have the funds available.”

The easement was purchased by the BLM on Thursday for $525,000 using Land and Water Conservation Fund money. According to the BLM’s website, the funding comes from money allocated by Congress with the intent of protecting “areas of critical environmental concern and special recreation management areas.”

BLM spokeswoman Sarah Wheeler said the area long has been targeted by BLM. The most recent easement is one of several along the lake, comprising 5,400 acres of protected land.

“This area is really important due to location,” Wheeler said. “It offers this unique corridor for wildlife from Yellowstone National Park, where they have a lot of protection, to the Centennial area and the Continental Divide.”


The protected area is a working cattle ranch and provides habitat and resources for numerous species, including grizzlies, pronghorn, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, sandhill cranes and long-billed curlew.

The effort to protect as much land in the critical corridor as possible, Wheeler said, is an attempt to provided the same future opportunities for people and animals that exist today.

Empey was worried about the property one day being subdivided, Danner said. With the easement, Empey and future owners will be able to ensure the ranch remains the way it is today.

“The goal was to keep it open for wildlife as there are curlew and pronghorn moving through the property pretty much unhindered,” Danner said. “The quality of this project, this particular landowner’s vision, sets it apart.”



Land Trust to use donated sites for Blackfoot River conservation

By David Ashby | Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015 1:00 pm


A grove of aspen trees on Caribou County land donated by Ronn and Roberta Rich through a conservation easement.

The Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust received an early Christmas gift last month in the form of two parcels of land along the Blackfoot River watershed in Caribou County.

The properties were donated to the Southeastern Idaho land conservation group as a conservation easement from landowners Ronn and Roberta Rich.

The first parcel consists of 250 acres of riparian wetlands at the headwaters of the Little Blackfoot River. The second parcel, which is 400 acres in size, is located west of the Blackfoot Reservoir.

Jerry DeBacker, the executive director of SSLT, describes the properties as “a little piece of paradise.”

“They are both very distinct properties,” DeBacker said. “The Little Blackfoot property has a 60-acre pond, wetlands, and groves of aspen and conifer trees. The other property is great winter ground for deer and elk.”

The lands will be used for wildlife conservation, particularly in the restoration and protection of the rivershed’s Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat trout populations and breeding grounds.

“First and foremost, we want to protect the water quality of the Blackfoot Rivershed,” DeBacker said.

According to DeBacker, the Rich family first settled in the Caribou County region in the 1880s and started accumulating land for its sheep herding business.

The long history of sheep herding is clearly apparent at the Little Blackfoot River site, where decades-old carvings from Basque sheepherders employed by the family still remain on some of the aspen trees.

Ronn and Roberta Rich wanted to donate the 650 acres to ensure the land’s natural resources are protected for future generations.

“Conservation easements are just one tool in the large toolbox of land protection,” DeBacker said. “So if they sell the property in the future, the conservation easement stays in place and runs in perpetuity.”

With the Rich’s easement, SSLT now manages 19 parcels of land around Southeast Idaho, working to protect and restore natural habitat and agricultural ground.

Wood River Land Trust Job Posting

The Wood River Land Trust is seeking a fulltime Development Manager

  • Some responsibilities will include: Budgeting and budget management, Public relations, grant coordination, major gift coordination, foundation tracking, donor acquisition, prospect research, income giving reports. 



  1. Bachelor’s degree preferred.
  2. Strong interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills.
  3. Organized, detail-oriented, able to set priorities, manage time as well as multiple projects and deadlines.
  4. Computer skills including Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, experience in utilizing the internet in a PC environment required. Experience with donor database software preferred.
  5. Nonprofit experience in the area of Development
  6. Commitment to conservation and the mission and work of the WRLT.


Please send cover letter and resume to Trey Spaulding at or Wood River Land Trust, 119 E. Bullion St., Hailey, ID 83333


Salary DOE, Excellent benefits include medical, dental, 401K, flex scheduling, generous vacation/holiday/sick time


Deadline for Application is December 19, 2014  EOE



NRCS/SGI efforts with Big Creek Ranch in the Pahsimeroi

Take a moment - actually 7 minutes - and watch here what is being done on private lands -- "Idaho is defined by its landscape and its people. Our land is our history, our culture, and our future". This video demonstrates ICOLT supporter, Tom Page's commitment to his land and ranching operation while working with public land managers to sustain both private and public lands. Thanks Tom!



Conservation sales protect salmon habitat.

The Page family, owners of 2,200 acres in the Pahsimeroi Valley agreed to permanently protect important salmon habitat on their working ranch.

“This ranch had all the parts needed for great conservation - it had good restoration opportunities, strong water rights, strong operational values and the potential to be a viable conservation ranching operation," said Tom Page, who co-owns Big Creek Ranch with his brother, Michael. "We hope that through our efforts, and through the work of our partners, the native fish return to the Upper Pahsimeroi Basin."

Read more here: 

Sagebrush Steppe Land Trusts works with City of American Falls on Trails

Talks are in the early stages for building a walking and biking trail system from Seagull Bay to Massacre Rocks State Park. The plan was developed in City of American Falls scoping sessions held earlier this year.

People come from miles around to mountain bike on trails near Massacre Rocks, said American Falls Mayor Marc Beitia. Trails around the state park are usually open to winter use, so increasing the biking trails may increase the number of tourists around the area in the winter months, he said. The trail can be used by hikers and birders as well.

American Falls City officials met with Jerry DeBacker with the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust at the end of March to discuss the possibility of the trail. The trust sets up easements for conservation projects on private land using IRS regulations that allow for easements, and recreation is one of the easements allowed, DeBacker said. The trust would negotiate with private landowners for the easement rights to the property, he said. Read More