Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Importance of Private Timberlands

Privately owned timberlands offer many benefits for both people and wildlife. In northern Idaho, for instance, timber company lands often provide important migration paths for mammals like elk, moose, grizzly bear, wolverine and fisher. These lands are also home to endangered species and provide cold water streams for bull trout and cutthroat trout. Many of the lands are open to the public and are popular places for hunting and hiking.

With development prices soaring, many timber companies are selling these lands for home or recreational property development. This development cuts off public access, introduces non-native weed species and can fragment wildlife habitat.

The Nature Conservancy works with timber companies to conserve these working forests. In Idaho, the Conservancy has worked with Potlatch Forest Holdings to conduct a biologically inventory of the company’s lands for endangered species, rare plants, roadless areas and key wildlife habitat.

In 2004, Potlatch announced its decision to certify all of its lands—including 600,000 acres in Idaho--as sustainably grown under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certification. These certifications require conservation plans for wildlife.

Last week, The Nature Conservancy made an announcement of a Potlatch project in another state: The creation of a new wildlife management area in Arkansas on Potlatch lands. This will include a 16,000-acre easement, the largest ever established in Arkansas.

This area will be open for public recreation, and will provide important habitat for endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker (below) and American alligator, and game species like deer, turkey and bobwhite quail.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

World's Most Unusual Hotel?

This week in Nature Stories, The Nature Conservancy's podcast, travel to Sweden for a stay in what may be the world's most unusual hotel--a hotel constructed entirely of ice. Each year, this incredible structure is rebuilt using 3000 tons of snow and ice. Ice sculptures, an ice church and a domed bar serving vodka in ice glasses are just a few of the "amenities" in this engineering marvel.

The Nature Stories podcast explores our many ways of relating to the natural world. In this episode, correspondent William S. Hammack explores how from the icy climate of the Arctic comes art, grandeur and some very frigid sleeping quarters.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign's New Site

The photo above isn't of a pretty flower; it's a highly invasive, non-native weed: dalmatian toadflax. Non-native weeds like these can ruin wildlife habitat, agricultural fields and rangelands, and cost Idahoans millions of dollars to control each year.

Since 2001, the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign has been educating the public on how they can stop the spread of non-native weeds. The new web site includes a weed field guide, information on weed free hay for horesback trips in the backcountry and other useful information. Mountain Visions, a Boise digital media firm, will be installing panoramic views of Idaho landscapes in the near future.

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho contributes to the campaign and hopes all Idahoans learn how they can stop the spread of noxious weeds.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Montana Chapter News: Centennial Valley Ranch Purchased

The Nature Conservancy's Montana Chapter has announced the purchase of a 11,500-acre ranch in the Centennial Valley. This valley is part of the Greater Yellowstone area, and is used by wildlife that migrates to Henry's Lake, Idaho, including pronghorn and elk.

“This deal is huge,” says the Conservancy’s Tim Swanson, “not only because the ranch is within one of the most significant natural landscapes in Montana, but because of the richness of the ranchland itself.”

The purchase is part of an on-going effort to preserve this remote valley’s ranching history and rich wildlife habitat. So far, the Conservancy, area landowners and government agencies have used conservation easements and land acquisition to protect around 38,000 of the 100,000 acres of private land in the valley.

“This purchase guarantees that this ranch and the surrounding working landscape will retain its rural wildlife-rich character that hasn’t changed much in centuries,” added Swanson, southwest Montana program director for the Conservancy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Proposition 2 is Defeated

Proposition 2--a ballot measure The Nature Conservancy considered detrimental to Idaho's working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat and quality of life--was soundly defeated in yesterday's election. Latest poll results show that 76% of Idaho voters voted against the measure.

The Nature Conservancy joined a broad coalition of organizations including chambers of commerce, industry groups, conservationists and neighborhood organizations in opposing the measure.