Monday, July 26, 2010

Ball Creek Ranch Preserve, and Beyond

I had long wanted to share in the mission of The Nature Conservancy, to work to protect the rich biodiversity of this planet through pragmatic conservation.

In June 2005 the opportunity presented itself when I was hired as the preserve manager at the Conservancy’s Ball Creek Ranch Preserve in the Kootenai River Valley of north Idaho.

Five years later, I can say that it has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life.

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to live and work in such a remarkable place, to have developed sound relationships with conservation partners and to have worked alongside them to protect and restore important wildlife habitat.

Under the leadership of Robyn Miller, the Conservancy’s North Idaho conservation manager, the North Idaho program has realized tremendous conservation outcomes that benefit both people and wildlife.

I have never worked around a more talented and devoted group of people than those working for the Conservancy in Idaho.

I recently took a new position with the Conservancy, and on August 9 I will begin working as associate director of philanthropy.

This, of course, is quite a shift from the calling that originally led me to Idaho. I will be relocating to Hailey, in order to conduct business from our state office, and while I will certainly miss North Idaho, I look forward to the new experiences that this opportunity will provide.

My time at Ball Creek Ranch has left me with a wealth of memories to draw from…. summer sunsets over the valley, a sky full of migratory waterfowl, and some interesting interactions with moose and bear!

Since purchasing the Ball Creek Ranch, the Conservancy has restored more than 500 acres of wetlands and associated habitat, and set aside several hundred additional acres for wildlife protection.

Much of the property has remained in agricultural production. Ball Creek Ranch is a unique and complex project that successfully meets the needs of wildlife and people.

I greatly value the time I’ve spent at Ball Creek and look forward to seeing the success story more fully develop in years to come.

Justin Petty
Inland Northwest Land Steward, The Nature Conservancy
Photo: Rider, Justin Petty, Robyn Miller

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