Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rep. Simpson Secures Funding for Henry's Lake Conservation

The Nature Conservancy would like to take this opportunity to extend a big thanks to U.S. Representative Mike Simpson for his role in securing funding for Henry's Lake conservation in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

Senator Mike Crapo has also long been supportive of the Henry's Lake area and helped make this conservation funding possible.

$2 million dedicated to conservation of land at Henry's Lake is included in the act, an incredible benefit for one of the most special places in Idaho and its working ranches, wildlife and open space.

A visit to Henry's Lake--located in east Idaho just 15 miles west of West Yellowstone--quickly reveals why it's so important for conservation. Yellowstone may be famous for its wildlife, but it's an incredibly inhospitable place in the winter. Big game animals like elk, moose, mule deer and pronghorn migrate to and from the park to public lands to spend the winter.

To get there, they pass through private ranches, like those found at Henry's Lake.

The ranching culture is an integral part of Henry's Lake, a fact not lost on many visitors to the area who enjoy the scenery, visit rodeos and soak up the Western atmosphere.

This also happens to be one of the fastest growing areas in Idaho. As more people call this area home, ranchers face pressure to sell their lands for development. When this happens, wildlife habitat and the rural economy suffer--and what drew people to the area in the first place is diminished.

Henry's Lake conservation will be funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that funds land conservation from off-shore oil royalties.

The Nature Conservancy believes that it is a priority to keep working ranches working at Henry's Lake. Representative Simpson recognized the importance of these ranches and requested the funding in this package.

Thanks to Rep. Simpson's and Sen. Crapo's efforts, there's a hopeful future at Henry's Lake--for people and wildlife.

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