Thursday, April 14, 2011

Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts

by Susanna Danner, director of protection, The Nature Conservancy in Idaho

A sheep rancher in the Southern Pioneers wants to keep her ranch in the family for her children and grandchildren.

A Wood River Valley fisherman wants to restore the willow and cottonwood forested banks where rainbow trout lurk.

A birder in Council wants to wake up in the dark to sneak up on strutting sage grouse.

A wheat farmer in Swan Valley wants to run an economically-viable farm while encouraging elk and deer to migrate across his property.

A resident of Stanley wants to gaze over the Sawtooth Valley and see unbroken vistas all the way to the mountaintops.

A forester in Bonners Ferry wants to harvest larch trees from a forest that is also a seasonal home to grizzly bears.

A Boise resident wants to walk her dog from her home up into the Boise Foothills while great-horned owls flutter overhead.

A cattle rancher in Challis wants to expand his operation while ensuring that the ranch never gets broken up.

What do all of these people have in common? They can benefit from the land trusts of Idaho. First of all, what is a land trust? Some kind of bank?

Land trusts are private, independent, nonprofit organizations that have joined with landowners to protect private lands in the United States for over 50 years.

There are over 1,600 land trusts operating across the U.S.

In Idaho, twenty land trusts and two local and state government-sponsored programs make up the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts. The Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts (ICOLT) was created to serve as a unified voice for all land trusts in the state.

ICOLT supports the values that so many Idahoans prize: clean drinking water, local food, plentiful wildlife, places to walk, ride, hunt and fish, and scenery that is unmatched in the Northern Rockies.

The land trusts of Idaho are diverse in size, scope, and mission. Land trusts work in all parts of our state, on everything from potato farms to wolverine habitat. Among other places, land trusts are key members of their communities in Pocatello and McCall, Salmon and Twin Falls, Driggs and Boise. But they all share one thing: a focus on private land conservation.

Land trusts work with private landowners to protect and enhance private lands through voluntary agreements called conservation easements and by assisting landowners with stewardship projects.

Land trusts are not environmental advocacy groups. Land trusts work closely with landowners and a large group of partners that includes county governments, sportsmen, Tribes, state and federal land and wildlife management agencies, local watershed groups and others to protect open lands.

To learn more about Idaho’s land trusts and which ones work near you, visit

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