Landowners and conservation advocates recently toured one of Idaho's conserved farms with Rep. Mike Simpson to discuss the future of funding for working lands with conservation and heritage value.
The talks focused on the success of local projects that received federal funding through Farm Bill easement programs and the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). In addition, the group spoke about the importance of long-term tax incentives for working farmers and ranchers to help keep the land in family hands and in production for generations to come.
"I am strong believer in the need to protect and preserve our farm and ranch lands and ensure that rural families are able to pass their operations onto future generations," said Congressman Simpson, chairman for the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which has jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho. "I believe the public-private partnerships that are helping to protect these lands are important moving forward and I was pleased to hear firsthand from those who have seen these partnerships work effectively."
The tour featured Barbara Farms & Ernie’s Organics which is owned and operated by Fred & Judy Brossy. The Brossy’s have farmed their ground for more than 20 years. The Brossy Family agreed with the former landowner and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to put in place a conservation easement that protects prime farm soils, wildlife habitat and water quality in the Little Wood River. In 2007, the Brossy’s placed another easement on a different part of their property.
Other speakers included Greg Brown, who spoke on the value of LWCF funding to protect lands crucial to the National Park Service at Hagerman Fossil Beds and Minidoka National Monument; Tom McFarland of Salmon about the importance of Farm Bill conservation easements for working landowners; and Greg Burns of Madison County about long-term tax incentives helping family farms.
“I was thrilled to be in the company of so many of Idaho’s conservation leaders and landowners willing to share their successes and challenges,” said Joselin Matkins, executive director of Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and Chair of the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts. “Working together, we are cultivating common ground across political parties and cultural backgrounds to protect the wild spaces and working lands that make Idaho such a wonderful place to live, work, and play.”
Participants included private landowners from Arco, Ashton, Buhl, Kimberly, Salmon and Shoshone. Representatives from the City of Boise Open Space Program, The Conservation Fund, Idaho Foundation for Parks & Land, Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, Lemhi Regional Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Pioneers Alliance, Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust, Teton Regional Land Trust and the Wood River Land Trust also participated.
The Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts (ICOLT) is a group of local, regional and national land conservation organizations operating in Idaho that seek to work cooperatively to maintain and increase voluntary incentive-based private land conservation.
Congressman Simpson is serving his seventh term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District. In addition to serving on the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, he serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
Additional information about ICOLT can be found at http://www.idaholandtrusts.org/. Congressman Simpson’s website is http://simpson.house.gov/ and on Facebook you can search for “Mike Simpson” or “Mike Simpson for U.S. Congress”.
Information about tax incentives and Farm Bill easement programs can be found at http://www.landtrustalliance.org/policy. Details about the Land & Water Conservation Fund success stories in Idaho can be found at http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/idaho.html or on Facebook by searching for Idaho Land & Water Conservation Fund.
Contacts: Joselin Matkins, ICOLT Chair, 208/241-4662; Nikki Watts, Rep. Simpson Communications Director, 208/334-1953.