Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter events at Silver Creek Preserve

There are several events planned this winter at the Silver Creek Preserve. The following is a list of events organized by the Environmental Resource Center of the Wood River Valley. Silver Creek staff will be helping to lead the tours around the Preserve and there are bound to be great things to see. The winters bustles with activity-- waterfowl, swans, eagles, elk, deer, moose often make appearances-- so put your warm clothes on and come on down.

Birding on Snowshoes
Saturday January 27, Saturday February 24, and Saturday March 31st 10 am- 2 pm
An adventure viewing birds in the Silver Creek area. Carpools meet at the Hailey Park and Ride at the corner of River Street and Bullion st.
Free to ERC members
Donation to ERC requested ($15) for non- members and ($25) for families of 3 or more.

Coming of Spring Walks
Saturdays: 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24, 10 am- 2 pm
Discover the coming of spring with the ERC on nature walks to Silver Creek Preserve. Watch spring unfold by noticing changes in the abundant flora and fauna. Groups will meet in Hailey at the corner of Bullion st. and River st. at the Park-and-Ride lot.
Free to ERC members
Donation to ERC requested ($15) for non- members and ($25) for families of 3 or more.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Gift To Idaho

"Christmas came to Idaho early this year," Governor Jim Risch said yesterday at a press conference in his office. Risch was there to announce Idaho's newest state park, Ritter Island--a gift from The Nature Conservancy to the state.

Ritter Island has been owned and managed by the Conservancy since 1986. Since Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has a vision

The gift includes a one million dollar endowment for the state to manage its new state park. This money was given in 1986 to the Conservancy and was invested wisely, thus enabling the state to manage the park without straining its budget.

The Conservancy has owned Ritter Island since 1986, and has managed it as Thousand Springs Preserve. The island includes a historic rock house and dairy farm built by businesswoman Minnie Miller in 1920. The facilities remain in excellent condition. The Minnie Miller Falls on the property are the largest intact springs along the Middle Snake River.

The Conservancy’s goal in the Thousand Springs area was to protect the springs and unique wildlife they support. The scenic site has also been a popular recreation area and many visitors have expressed an interest in touring the historic buildings. By donating the property to Idaho to manage as a state park, the Conservancy will ensure the continued protection of the springs and wildlife habitat, while at the same time provide the public with what it wants: more access and interpretive facilities for the history and nature of the island.

“Our work in the Middle Snake River with members and partners is creating a legacy that all Idahoans will be able to enjoy,” says Laura Hubbard, the Conservancy’s Idaho state director. “I thank all of our supporters over the past twenty years who have made this enduring conservation legacy possible. Because of their support and vision, future generations will be able enjoy the natural beauty, unique wildlife and inspiring human history of Ritter Island.”

Read the Idaho Statesman's story on Ritter Island.

Watch KTVB-NBC Channel 7's reporting of the press conference.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Silver Creek Preserve Wraps Up 30th Anniversary Season

With the close of fishing season on November 30 concluded The Nature Conservancy’s 30th anniversary year at Silver Creek Preserve. During the fishing season, which opened May 27, the preserve attracted 7301 visitors representing every U.S. state and 13 countries.

Almost half (49 percent) of all visits were from out-of-state guests Visitors came to the preserve from Austria, England, Japan, France, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Turkey, New Zealand and Peru. The preserve is considered a worldwide fly-fishing destination due to its tremendous insect hatches, an incredible trout population and very visible—but hard to catch—trophy fish.

In fact, 89 percent of the visitors to the preserve came to fish. About 18 percent used one of the five guide services that operate on Silver Creek. The rest of the visitors enjoyed birding, hiking and canoeing on the 880-acre property.

While some of the hatches changed this season due to early high water, anglers found excellent an excellent trico hatch and a strong fish population. The largest trout ever recorded caught on the creek, a 33-inch brown, was landed this summer by a former Silver Creek intern.

The preserve was created 30 years when The Nature Conservancy purchased the 479-acre property known as Sun Valley Ranch. The ranch had been up for sale and Jack Hemingway—son of Ernest Hemingway and a commissioner for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game—believed the property should be preserved for future generations. Hemingway sought the Conservancy to purchase the property as a nature preserve.

An important part of the conservation success along Silver Creek has been the donation of conservation easements by other landowners in the valley. To date, 22 landowners have donated nearly 10,000 acres of easements, protecting nearly the entire main stem of Silver Creek from development.

“The number of visitors that enjoy Silver Creek each year is a great testament to the conservationists who worked so hard to make this preserve possible,” says Dayna Smith, Silver Creek preserve manager. “They have created a tremendous conservation legacy in this valley. Future generations from all over the globe will be able to continue to enjoy world-class fishing, abundant wildlife and a rural setting due to their hard work and vision.”

The Conservancy hosted activities throughout the season to celebrate the preserve’s anniversary, including a gala event for the preserve’s founders at nearby Loving Creek Ranch, an opening weekend barbecue, nature walks and educational seminars. The organization also published a commemorative booklet, available free at the preserve and the Conservancy’s state headquarters in Hailey.

While the fishing season and anniversary celebrations are over for the year, the preserve remains open to public use.

“It is truly a beautiful time of year to be here,” says Smith. “Waterfowl have congregated in the wetlands, bald eagles fly overhead and the winter light is stunning.”

The Conservancy has ambitious plans for the preserve and Silver Creek watershed in the coming years. Uplands habitat restoration, a study looking at sediment and temperature issues in Kilpatrick Pond, stream bank enhancements, birding and nature walks, and a symposium to discuss Silver Creek and Big Wood conservation issues are a few of the things planned for 2007.

“By working together, we can ensure that the preserve continues to be a special place for people and nature,” says Smith. “The Nature Conservancy thanks the many people who contributed to the preserve over the past thirty years. We look forward to continuing to work with the community to protect this place for many, many decades to come.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Give the Gift of Nature This Holiday

Help protect the last great places on Earth with these holiday gifts that benefit The Nature Conservancy's work:

1. Give a gift membership.

2. Help protect the world's most extraordinary forests through The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program.

3. A holiday gift to Rescue the Reef, a program that helps conserve coral reefs, one of the most endangered--and important--wildlife habitats on Earth.

4. Shop for apparel and other items at The Nature Conservancy's store.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The End of a Great Fishing Season

Jerry Jeffery, 2006 visitor center host 2006

November 30, 2006 marked the end of a great fishing season at the Silver Creek Preserve. We had over 7,000 visitors this year from every US state and fourteen countries! Dramatic spring flows altered the creek in many ways--creating new habitat and new challenges for fishermen. And although hatches were a little different in timing and frequency this year and stream conditions in some places very different, fishing reports were great all summer and fall. September and October saw much heavier angler numbers than last year probably due to the beautiful weather and active fish.

A big thank you to all the people who volunteered this summer. We had several visitor center hosts and hostesses as well as people who came out just for the day. We could not have had such a successful summer without all of you.

We look forward to next season, have a great winter!!

--Dayna and the Silver Creek Staff

Hemingway in Idaho

Why does The Nature Conservancy own Ernest Hemingway’s last home? The answer lies within the beautiful Idaho landscape that he loved. A special report on The Nature Conservancy's web site.

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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Opinion: Proposition 2 Endangers Idaho's Way of Life

Ken Pursley, the Idaho Chapter's board chair, presents The Nature Conservancy's opposition to Proposition 2 in this editorial in the Idaho Statesman.

Nature Conservancy Holds Photo Contest

The Nature Conservancy is holding its first digital photography contest. Enter your photos that capture the diversity of life on Earth. Your own original digital images of our lands, waters, plants, animals and people in nature are all eligible for the competition. Images can be submitted to one of two categories: Best Nature Photo or Best Photo from a Conservancy Preserve.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Waterfowl hunting season underway at Silver Creek

Fall waterfowl, photo by Guy Bonnivier

Waterfowl hunting is well underway at the Silver Creek Preserve and throughout Idaho. Waterfowl hunting is allowed at the preserve on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays only and with limited hours until the end November (the end of fishing season). Hunting rules at the preserve are very specific, so be sure to thoroughly read through the rules posted at the visitor center prior to hunting. You can also visit with staff from 6-9 a.m. at the center on hunting days.
There are many different users of Silver Creek- birders, fishermen, school groups, canoers. Please follow the rules and respect other users!! Have fun and be safe!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Nature Conservancy Opposes Proposition 2

After careful deliberation, the Board of Trustees of the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has voted to oppose Proposition 2. We believe that this ballot measure poses a direct threat to what Idahoans value most about our state, including family farms and ranches, wildlife, clean water, outdoor recreation, and our way of life.

The Nature Conservancy is a strictly non-partisan group that works through voluntary agreements with landowners. We believe in conserving Idaho’s great places by using cooperation, free market solutions, and a business-like approach. And we respect property rights in all we do.

The Idaho Chapter’s decision is unprecedented. In our 30 years of work in this state, we have never taken a position on a ballot issue – until now. We step forward only due to the depth of our concerns about Proposition 2.

The backers of Proposition 2 claim that the measure is needed to ensure that eminent domain could never be used to take private property for private commercial development purposes – as was permitted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The truth is that the Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 555 last spring to restrict eminent domain for commercial development and effectively overturn the Kelo case in Idaho. Proposition 2 is not really about eminent domain.

The real damage of Proposition 2 would come from a separate section found deep in the text of the measure. This provision can be read to require taxpayers to compensate developers when new laws and ordinances prevent them from pursuing the densest subdivision development or “highest” use of their land. This sweeping financial entitlement has never been a feature of America’s law of property rights.

If Proposition 2 is approved, we question whether communities will be able to manage our state’s rapid growth or whether working farms and ranches—essential to our state’s economy—would be able to survive.

The only certainty we see in Proposition 2 is litigation, confusion, expense, and new burdens on the taxpayer. In the places we work, those are not good things for anyone.

The Nature Conservancy is a property owner in Idaho, at places such as Silver Creek, Cougar Bay, and Thousand Springs. Our neighborhoods include family farms and ranches, private timberlands, rural communities, and vital wildlife habitat. Wherever we work, we believe that one of our most important duties is to be a good neighbor.

We feel compelled to speak out because Proposition 2 is bad for our neighborhoods. If you care about our agricultural and forestry economies; hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; healthy neighborhoods and private ranches, Proposition 2 threatens what you value.

Our choices today will shape our legacy for future generations. By voting “no” on Proposition 2, we can help to ensure a future that includes what we love most about Idaho.

Contact: Will Whelan at 208-350-2202

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Redband Trout

The Nature Conservancy considers the Owyhees, the high desert country located in the southwest corner of the state, to be one of its highest conservation priorities in the state. This vast, five-million-acre county contains some of the best sagebrush habitat left in the country, and is also home to a long ranching tradition. The Conservancy has been a member of the Owyhee Initiative to create solutions to land use issues in the county, and also works on a number of on-the-ground conservation projects in the Owyhees.

The Owyhees are home to a variety of unique creatures, many of which live in the sagebrush habitat. But the rivers are also home to an interesting fish: the redband trout. This trout—a subspecies of rainbow trout—can be found in a number of rivers throughout the county.

High desert redband trout can survive at higher temperatures than any other trout species. This enables them to survive when desert temperatures soar in the summer. The trout face threats from introduced smallmouth bass in some rivers, and also from declining water quality.

On a recent visit to the Owyhees, my wife and I fished for this beautiful fish. In most rivers, you will not catch large fish, but you can catch many of them. Their colors are often quite vivid. The rugged canyon scenery is spectacular, and wildlife is abundant.

Although more people are visiting the Owyhees from rapidly growing Boise and the Treasure Valley, you can still find solitude and wild landscapes to explore. The Owyhee Initiative’s goal is to protect wilderness and wild and scenic rivers in the Owyhees so future generations can continue to experience the magic of the high desert.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Malpais Borderlands Group

Rancher and conservationist Warner Glenn signs a poster of his latest jaguar photo, taken near his ranch in southern Arizona.

Around the world, The Nature Conservancy works as a partner with rural communities, farmers and ranchers. Conservation easements remain a powerful tool for protecting rural economies and wildlife habitat.

The Idaho Chapter works with ranchers on many projects, including in the Owyhee Canyonlands, Henry’s Lake, Silver Creek, the Pahsimeroi River Valley and the Kootenai Valley.

On a recent trip to southern Arizona, I had the opportunity to visit another successful Conservancy partnership with ranchers. The Malpais Borderlands Group of Arizona is a grassroots group of ranchers who have created a non-profit organization to demonstrate that ranching and conservation can thrive together. Their work includes conservation easements, fire management, endangered species conservation and an active research program.

Their seminars showcasing their conservation-minded ranching have drawn people from all over the world—including Masai herders from Kenya, Mongolian park managers and U.S. livestock ranchers—to their ranches along the Mexican border. The project also published a recent book, Working Wilderness.

Ranchers Warner and Wendy Glenn, who own the Malpais Ranch, hosted Nature Conservancy staff on their ranch during my trip. Warner is well known not only as a rancher and conservationist, but also as one of the best lion hunting guides in the West. In 1996, his hounds located a jaguar in southern New Mexico, near the project. Glenn photographed this beautiful animal and wrote a booklet on it, using this to showcase the importance of conservation in this region.

This year, he once again saw a jaguar in New Mexico. He is the only person to have seen a jaguar in the United States in the past decade. Glenn speaks of the thrill of seeing these elusive animals and the need for large-scale conservation projects that continue to allow them to roam into the United States. It was inspiring to hear this articulate conservationist talk about this beautiful country and the amazing wildlife found in it.

Later we hiked into the Arizona grasslands where this jaguar was spotted. It is still wild, rugged country. While the chances of seeing a jaguar are incredibly small, it is nice knowing that these beautiful animals still roam here. And it’s even nicer to know that the work of ranchers in the Malpais Borderlands Group will provide habitat for jaguars and other animals for future generations.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Author Nabhan to Speak on Local Food, Local Lands

The Lava Lake Foundation for Science and Conservation together with The Nature Conservancy and Wood River Land Trust present: "Local Foods, Local Landscapes: Linking Food Systems and Land Conservation," an evening with Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD.

Join us for a lecture by Dr. Nabhan on Friday, October 6th, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. Dr. Nabhan will discuss the links between food production, local economies, and conservation in the West.

Tickets are $5.00 at the door. Gary Paul Nabhan is a writer, lecturer, and world-renowned conservation scientist.

He is Director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University, where his current work is the marketing of place-based heritage foods as a means to support land conservation in rural communities of the Intermountain West. Nabhan has received a MacArthur "Genius" award, a liftime achievement award from the Society of Conservation Biology, and a John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing.

The Liberty Theatre is located at 110 North Main Street in Hailey. For more information, email Heather Kimmel or phone her at 208- 788-3947.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nature Conservancy Destination: Southern Arizona

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit several Nature Conservancy projects in southern Arizona. On any travel, it pays to check out chapter web sites to see if you can include a trip to one of our preserves in your visit.

Southern Arizona has some of the most well-known preserves in the country. Ramsey Canyon Preserve is located where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains and the Sonoran and Chihuahan deserts come together. The mountains, which arise abruptly from the surrounding desert, creates habitat for a tremendous diversity of species.

The terrain here looks more like forest I saw in Australia than the saguaro-filled landscape near Tucson. Stunning rock formations can be seen from the hiking trails that wind through the preserve.

The preserve is best known as a destination for birders. As many as 14 species of hummingbirds can be found here, as well as tropical species like the elegant trogon. I arrived a bit too late for the hummingbird migration, but I did see plenty of beautiful lizards, the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog and a number of Coues deer: At other times of year, visitors may see javelina, coati, black bear and a tremendous variety of birds. The preserve includes several ponds, constructed to mimic wetlands that once were found in this valley, located along the stream. These ponds are part of a project to conserve Ramsey canyon leopard frog, a rare species found nowhere else on earth. These frogs can be easily seen during a visit.

The preserve includes a great interpretive facility and gift shop with books, birding supplies and Nature Conservancy clothing.

It is located about 1.5 hours from Tucson and makes a nice stop during a trip to see other popular tourist sites in the area, including Saguaro National Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Tombstone.

Visit a Nature Conservancy preserve, and see firsthand how your investment is paying off.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Owyhee Initiative offers hope for unique landscape

Lou Lunte, director of conservation programs for The Nature Conservancy's Idaho Chapter, explains why the Owyhee Initiative breaks a cycle of contentious and often bitter land use debates in the beautiful high desert of Owyhee County, in this Idaho Statesman Reader's View.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Idaho Statesman Photo Challenge

This week's Idaho Statesman photo challenge was of the benches at Silver Creek Preserve. See today's Statesman for the photo, and you can read more about visitor center here. The fishing is still good, wildlife is abundant and fall is in the air, so it's a great time of year to make a visit to Silver Creek!

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's Autumn at Silver Creek!!!!

Its fall at the Silver Creek Preserve!! The elk are moving onto the Preserve to seek shelter and fatten up for the winter. The sandhill cranes with their haunting song are gathering and preparing to leave for warmer climate, and the ducks and geese are accumulating and getting ready for a winter at Silver Creek. The beaver are extremely busy this time of the year and a badger was sited last week. We have had sitings of a small blue heron and the birding has been very active as birds fly through on their way south. This will no doubt be another amazing fall-- the fishing has been great, the air is clear and crisp, and the animals are busy preparing for the winter. In the seasons and years to come we hope to continue our protection work at Silver Creek through education, scientific monitoring and restoration, and through building relationships in the community. Come visit the preserve and see for yourselves the wonders of autumn at Silver Creek and learn what we are doing to protect this amazing place.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New Tax Incentives Benefit Easement Holders

Conservation easements offer significant benefits for landowners, and are a powerful force for conservation. Easements allow owners to continue to own the land and continue traditional uses like farming and ranching, while restricting development to protect wildlife habitat, clean water and open space. The Nature Conservancy has protected land through easements in all 50 states, including more than 25,000 acres in Idaho.

New tax incentives are available for private landowners interested in protecting the important conservation values of their lands through the donation of conservation easements.

On August 17, 2006, President Bush signed into law the Pension Protection Act of 2006. This legislation contains a two-year provision that in 2006 and 2007 will enhance the tax benefits of protecting your land when you donate a conservation easement.

If you own land with important natural resources, donating a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy can be one of the smartest, most cost-effective ways to conserve the lands and waters you love.

By donating a conservation easement, you can help fulfill your vision for your property and protect America’s natural heritage—while maintaining private property rights and possibly realizing significant tax benefits.

Summary of the Improved Benefits
For many landowners, the new law enhances the tax benefits of protecting private land. The legislation improves the tax incentive for donating conservation easements by allowing conservation easement donors to:

Deduct up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income in any year (up from 30 percent);

Deduct up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income if the majority of that income came from farming, ranching or forestry; and

Continue to carry over unused portions of deductions for as long as 15 years (up from 5 years) after the initial year in which the deduction was claimed.

Learn more about conservation easements.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Idaho Chapter Welcomes New Trustees

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho is pleased to welcome the following new members to its board of trustees: Diane Borjessan of Coeur d'Alene, Craig Groves of Bozeman, MT, Tom Praggastis of Ketchum, Sue Richards of Boise, Bill Rogers of Idaho Falls and Penn Siegel of Spokane, WA.

Tomorrow, these new members will spend a full day learning about the chapter's conservation projects and programs around the state. We look forward to working with them to protect Idaho's most special places.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ernest Hemingway Festival Held in Ketchum

The Sun Valley Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau will hold the Second Annual Ernest Hemingway Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, September 28 - October 1. The schedule includes notable Hemingway scholars and speakers, including Valerie Hemingway, author of the recent memoir Running With The Bulls.

The festival celebrates Hemingway's time in Idaho and explores some of his haunts.

The Nature Conservancy owns Ernest Hemingway's last home in Ketchum. The Conservancy is currently archiving historic items in the home, and a preserve caretakers is ensuring that necessary repairs are made to best preserve the cultural assets of the home. The home is not open to the public to respect community wishes. A special fundraising dinner to provide necessary funding for the upkeep and ongoing management of the home will be held during the festival, contact the Chamber and Visitors Bureau for more information.

Ernest Hemingway also played an important role at another Nature Conservancy preserve: Silver Creek. Beginning in the 1930's, Hemingway was often invited to the area by the Sun Valley Resort for publicity. He often hunted ducks along Silver Creek, then part of the resort, with other celebrities like Gary Cooper. Ernest's son, Jack, loved spending time at the creek. When the Silver Creek property later came up for sale, it was Jack who contacted The Nature Conservancy to purchase the preserve.

Photo: Ernest Hemingway (third from left) prepares for a hunting outing along Silver Creek with family and friends.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nature Conservancy apparel

Keep the memories of summertime alive with Nature Conservancy backpacks, hats and t-shirts. You can order all these items on-line.

Nature Conservancy merchandise--including preserve hats and t-shirts--can also be purchased at the Idaho Field Office in Hailey, Silver Creek Preserve, Flat Ranch Preserve and Garden Creek Preserve.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nature Conservancy Acquires Henry's Lake Conservation Easement

The Nature Conservancy has announced the purchase of a 160-acre conservation easement on a working cattle ranch in the Henry’s Lake area. The easement is the latest in the Conservancy’s Henry’s Lake Ranchland Protection Project, with the goal of protecting wildlife habitat and working ranches in one of the fastest growing areas in the region.

The easement is on the Pearson Ranch, a working cattle ranch located at the foot of the Henry’s Lake Mountains west of Henry’s Lake. The ranch borders the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and provides important habitat for big game species including moose, elk, mule deer and pronghorn. The easement also protects .5 miles of Duck Creek, which is used by Yellowtone cutthroat trout for spawning.

Conservation easements—also commonly referred to as conservation protection agreements—are voluntary, legal agreements that allow the owners to continue traditional uses of the land while protecting wildlife habitat from development in perpetuity.

The easement was funded by the congressionally appropriated Land and Water Conservation Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The Nature Conservancy worked with partners including the Bureau of Land Management and the Teton Regional Land Trust.

The Bureau of Land Management will hold the conservation easement.

“This property is an excellent addition to the conservation work that has already occurred around Henry’s Lake,” says Chet Work, Conservancy spokesperson for East Idaho. “The Nature Conservancy is thankful for the generosity of the Pearson family. Without the foresight of landowners like the Pearsons, much of the land surrounding Henry’s Lake would already be developed. Instead we will have working landscapes and wildlife habitat for future generations to enjoy.”

The Nature Conservancy and its conservation partners have protected more than 4000 acres on 14 ranches through conservation easements and the Henry’s Lake Ranchland Protection Project. The Conservancy also owns the Flat Ranch Preserve on the Henry’s Lake Flats, open to the public for fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. The Henry’s Lake area is considered by the Conservancy to be vitally important for the migrations of Yellowstone’s famous wildlife, including moose, pronghorn, elk and grizzly bear.

“The Henry’s Lake area is loved by so many people for its open spaces, rural character and abundant wildlife,” says Work. “Conservation easements help protect what is so special about this place. Easements offer a means to balance the traditional ranching economy, outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Land Use Summit to be held in Nampa

A summit hosted by the Wildlife Society addressing how land use changes impact farming, ranching, wildlife and outdoor recreation will be held September 14-15 at the Nampa Civic Center. The program offers an excellent overview of the land use changes facing Idaho, and how conservationists and others can protect what we value about Idaho.

The Nature Conservancy is a co-sponsor of this event.

Register on-line or phone (208)-334-2920 for more information.

Read more about the Land Use Summit.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hunter, Angler, Conservationist

In the latest issue of Nature Conservancy magazine, an article by Hal Herring explores the role of hunters and anglers in the conservation movement in his article "Hunter, Angler, Conservationist."

Idaho Chapter staff and projects are featured. Email your thoughts on the article to Matt Miller. Responses may be featured in a future blog post.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Silver Creek Voices: An Essay by Diane Josephy Peavey

Diane Josephy Peavey

Writer Diane Josephy Peavey reflects on how the success of Silver Creek Preserve is tied to those who live and work along the creek in her essay Silver Creek Voices. You can hear Peavey's weekly radio essays on Boise State Radio, and read more of her essays in her book, Bitterbrush Country, published by Fulcrum.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Owyhee Initiative Public Meetings Set

Idaho's plan for protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands is now in Congress. Learn about the plan, ask questions and share your thoughts.

Open Houses

August 22, 6 - 8 pm. Boise State University Student Union Building, Room Hatch C

August 24, 6 - 8 pm. Albertson College, Katherine Albertson International Center, Room 106

August 29, 6 - 8 pm. Homedale Middle School, Cafeteria

For more information, phone 208-343-8153

Read more about the Owyhee Initiative.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Soldier/ Stapp Preserve

The Silver Creek Preserve staff was led by Ralph Crowley of Thousand Springs Preserve last week in a fencing project on Soldier (Stapp) Creek Preserve. The Stapp Preserve is located at the base of Soldier Mountain, about eight miles north of Fairfield. The preserve encompasses a sensitive wetland area as well as stretches of Soldier Creek, Camas Creek, and Spring Creek. It is home to many beaver, moose, birds, and countless sensitive plant species. The fence helps keep cattle out of the fragile wetlands. The preserve is open to the public and is a great place to birdwatch, look at wildflowers, or just relax.

Photo: Our summer interns, Eric Nomura and Lonny Fritzler, at Soldier/Stapp Preserve. They spent the summer working at Silver Creek Preserve, and head back to Colorado College next week. We thank them for their hard work on behalf of The Nature Conservancy.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Off the Trail" features Lava Lake

"Off the Trail", a weekly public radio show sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, this week features Conservancy partner Lava Lake Land & Livestock. This sheep ranch includes a substantial conservation program covering 11,000 acres of the ranch and 800,000 acres of grazing allotments.

"Off the Trail" airs every Friday on Boise State Radio at 6:30 am, 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. You can hear it on the following stations: Boise 91.5 FM, Jackpot 91.3 FM, Sun Valley 91.1 FM,
Burley 88.5 FM, New Meadows 93.5 FM, Lake Fork 93.5 FM, McCall 90.7 FM. Or you can listen to "Off the Trail" programs on-line.

Photo: Great Pyrennes dogs at Lava Lake protect sheep from wolves, black bears and other predators. Lava Lake is committed to raising sheep in a "predator friendly" manner, meaning no predators are killed on the ranch.

Idaho Mountain Express: Silver Creek after the Spring Flood

The Mountain Express interviewed anglers last weekend on how the spring flood influenced their fishing. While fishing on Silver Creek is never easy, anglers are still finding good hatches, rising trout and excellent fishing conditions.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nature Conservancy Honors Preserve History

The Nature Conservancy recently recognized the people responsible for making Silver Creek Preserve possible for the past 30 years, at an event July 27 held on Loving Creek Ranch near the preserve.

The event was held to share stories and thank preserve founders, donors, landowners and others who have made the conservation project a model for stream conservation around the world.

About 100 people attended the event, hosted by the owners of Loving Creek Ranch: John and Dee Fery, Ward and Priscilla Woods, and Mark and Betsy Gates. Fery, who lead Boise Cascade in financial support of the preserve at its beginning in 1976, reflected on the successes at the preserve. It began when the Sun Valley Resort put the ranch up for sale, and Jack Hemingway and others urged The Nature Conservancy to purchase it.

Diane Josephy Peavey read a special essay she wrote for the occasion, which collected the stories of Silver Creek landowners Bud Purdy, John and Elizabeth Stevenson and others.

The Nature Conservancy also announced the launch of an endowment to fund conservation work at Silver Creek. Future plans at the preserve include:

A continued public outreach program with birding walks, watercolor classes, wine tastings, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Expanded monitoring of the creek and restoration of habitat. Already many miles of the creek system have been restored with plantings and stream bank reconstruction. More exciting projects are planned to restore the stream system while continuing to honor and protect existing irrigation and agricultural practices.

Working with the community to create market-based, collaborative solutions to development that impacts Silver Creek’s watershed.

Web access that will allow anyone—whether in Idaho or Argentina—to check on the latest, up-to-the-minute water flows and conditions at Silver Creek.

“We have accomplished a lot in 30 years with the help of so many community members,” says Laura Hubbard, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Idaho. “We celebrated an inspiring evening with many of the people who made this preserve possible. And we look forward to achieving even more in the next 30 years.”

The summer’s anniversary celebration continues with watercolor classes and nature walks at the preserve in August.

A publication celebrating 30 years of Silver Creek and anniversary poster are available free at the Silver Creek visitor’s center and The Nature Conservancy’s office in Hailey.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The last month of summer!!!

Preserve Manager, Dayna Smith, showing the diverse
macroinvertibrates populations found in the aquatic vegetation
during a nature walk.

There are only a few events left at the Silver Creek Preserve this summer!! We have two nature walks offered on August 5th and August 19th. In addition, Wednesday nights at the visitor center are busy with creativity- watercolors and wine on wednesdays!! Come join us and learn how to paint the amazing Silver Creek landscape while relaxing and chatting. These evenings are very casual and a lot of fun. We hope to see you before the summer is over.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Where are the Silver Creek Hatches?

Spring flooding at Silver Creek has caused some short-term changes in the stream, but promises better aquatic conditions in the future.

Anglers have been noticing changes this summer at Silver Creek Preserve, including favorite fishing spots that have changed, different hatches, and less profuse hatches in some areas. Some have even expressed concern over what has happened to change their favorite fishing spot.

Not to worry, say Nature Conservancy staff, who monitor the stream conditions carefully each year. A spring flood did substantially change aspects of the stream, but that holds the potential for even better fishing conditions in the future.

On April 6 and 7 this year, Silver Creek experienced a flood, with measured flows of 460 c.f.s., compared to a normal spring flow of 200 c.f.s. The flooding changed the creek in many places, with areas of gravel exposed in the middle of the creek where channels and vegetation once were, and areas along the bank where silt deposited.

Such changes cause short-term population changes in mayflies and caddis flies, but these aquatic insects typically return rapidly.

The scouring of the stream bottom and the new silt deposits will create better habitat conditions in the future for insects and a variety of other species.

“Silver Creek, like other rivers, is a constantly changing system,” says Dayna Smith, Silver Creek Preserve manager. “A dramatic event like a flood can have profound effects, but in the long term it should mean better wildlife habitat and better fishing.”

The Nature Conservancy is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Silver Creek Preserve this summer. The 850-acre preserve has been recognized a model for community-based conservation. The Conservancy has worked with 22 private landowners along the stream to protect nearly 10,000 acres through conservation easements.

Last year, visitors from all 50 states and 14 countries visited the preserve.

Despite the changes, fishing remains excellent on the preserve. Trico hatches have been profuse in some areas of the stream, with many trout rising. A 33-inch brown trout caught in June has attracted a lot of attention among fly fishers.

“Silver Creek is a special place for so many people, and for so many reasons,” says Smith. “Each year, we learn more about the creek, and Silver Creek always holds surprises. The fact that it can still function as a natural river is a large part of what makes this such a special place.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Guided Bird Watching , Fly Tying Classes and More On July 29

A Day at Silver Creek
Saturday July 29th
Silver Creek Preserve Visitor Center
No pre-registration required

Join Silver Creek staff for a natural history walk, plant walk, birding tours and fly fishing and fly tying classes, with acitivities running all day long at the preserve. All events are free.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Peppler Begins as Director of Philanthropy

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho has announced the hire of Jan Peppler of Hailey as the organization’s new director of philanthropy. Peppler will lead the Idaho Chapter’s philanthropy team in raising funds for conservation projects throughout the state of Idaho.

Peppler comes to the Conservancy from the Wood River Land Trust, where she served as major gifts officer, the trust’s fundraising leader. She has worked full-time for non-profit organizations for the past 16 years. She has raised money for a variety of causes including HIV/AIDS, human rights, public health issues and orphaned children.

“Jan has such extensive experience with non-profits and her skills and energy will be a tremendous asset to The Nature Conservancy,” says Laura Hubbard, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho’s state director. “She will be a key part of our effort to conserve special places, working lands and wildlife in Idaho.”

Peppler will work from the organization’s field office, located on First Avenue in Hailey.

Peppler’s duties will include leading philanthropy staff to raise funds for conservation projects around Idaho. The organization made its first acquisition in the state 30 years ago, with the purchase of Silver Creek Preserve. Recent projects include the acquisition of a ranch important for sage grouse in eastern Idaho, conservation efforts that benefit working ranches and salmon in the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi valleys and the application of cutting-edge technology to prevent, locate and eradicate non-native weeds in Hells Canyon and the Owyhee Canyonlands.

“I am so excited by the variety and depth of Conservancy projects in Idaho,” says Peppler. “I look forward to working with people who care about Idaho to protect what they value most about this beautiful state.”

The Conservancy is one of the largest conservation organizations in Idaho, with 5200 members from every county in the state. The Idaho Chapter has four offices as well as several preserves open to the public.

“This organization is so collaborative in its approach,” says Peppler. “It is clear to me that every staff member understands the importance of the work they’re doing. They are always eager to talk to the public. It is exciting to work with a group of people who are so energized about their work.”

Peppler spends much of her free time exploring Idaho and hiking with her dog Dixie, a Hurricane Katrina survivor she adopted this year.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Nature Conservancy's New Boise Office

The Nature Conservancy's Boise Office has a new address:
Banner Bank Building
950 West Bannock Street, Suite 210
Boise, ID 83702

This new building has many sustainable features designed to reduce energy consumption, waste and water usage. It is one of the few buildings in the world that collects stormwater and recycles used water to operate toilets. The building is designed to reduce energy consumption by 65%.

Please stop by and visit us in our new office! We would love to give you a tour.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Visit a Nature Conservancy Project, Wherever You Travel

No, you won't find any alligators on Idaho preserves, but you never know what you might find on your travels to Nature Conservancy projects.

On a recent trip to Louisiana, my mom, dad, wife and I had the chance to visit the Pearl River and Honey Island Swamp. It was a great thrill when our boat pulled into a Nature Conservancy project--the Louisiana Chapter's White Kitchen Preserve.

The Conservancy's work in this area is preserving cypress tupelo wetlands and provides habitat for egrets, herons, raptors, turtles, and of course, alligators. The preserve is used by a number of guide services taking tourists to see the natural beauty of the area:

Wherever you travel, consider a visit to a Nature Conservancy project as part of your visit. Chapter web sites for each state can help you plan your trip. You may find yourself watching cranes near Yellowstone, standing amongst the bison on the tallgrass prairie or counting birds in Arizona.

For an even more in depth view of The Nature Conservancy's projects, the Oregon Chapter's Natural History Excursions offer unique outdoor vacations ranging from birding in Oregon and rafting in Idaho to exploring the Amazon by riverboat and viewing polar bears and musk ox in Greenland.

Several preserves offer lodging on their grounds, and The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Journeys offers itineraries to a number of destinations each year, with upcoming trips to Maine, Alaska, Manitoba and Brazil.

Visiting preserves shows the tremendous success of the Conservancy's work around the world. The next time you plan a trip, include a visit to a conservation project--and see how your investment is paying off.--Matt Miller, blog editor

Statesman Reports on Banner Bank Building

The Idaho Statesman recently reported on the Banner Bank Building in downtown Boise, the new location of the Conservancy's Boise Office. The goal of the developer is to achieve the highest level of environmental certification of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)— an award only 18 buildings in the world have earned so far.

The building is designed to reduce emissions, energy consumption and water use.

The Conservancy's Lou Lunte is quoted in the story.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fencing Jesse Creek

A team of volunteers recently spent the day fencing Jesse Creek, located on the Frazier property acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 2004. The property is adjacent to the Conservancy's Flat Ranch Preserve, located just 15 miles west of West Yellowstone, near Macks Inn.

The fencing will protect streamside habitat, improving conditions for Yellowstone cutthroat trout, migratory birds and other species.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Silver Creek 30th Anniversary Commemorative Publication Available

A commemorative publication, celebrating 30th anniversary of The Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve, is hot off the presses. The publication celebrates Silver Creek through beautiful photography, watercolors and story. Pick up your free copy at the Silver Creek visitor center, valley fly shops or Nature Conservancy offices. You can also order a copy by emailing Matt Miller.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Osprey Tour On Cougar Bay

Join wildlife experts and state and federal natural resource agencies and conservation groups for the 7th annual Osprey Tour on Saturday, July 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce - Natural Resources Committee, this event will feature live and up close osprey viewing. Learn about the life history of these magnificent raptors, as well as other area birds and wildlife and the conservation projects that help sustain the diversity of wildlife in the area.

Boarding for the trip begins at 8:30 a.m. and the boat leaves the dock promptly at 9:00 a.m. For the next two hours the boat will cruise around Cougar and Casco Bays and follow biologists as they band nestling osprey. Bring your camera and binoculars and see nestlings as they are carefully taken out of their nesting boxes right in front of your eyes.

Additional information will be shared by resource experts from the Idaho Fish and Game, Watchable Wildlife Program; The Nature Conservancy; the Coeur d’Alene Chapter of the Audubon Society; and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase during the tour.

More information: Visit the Coeur d'Alene Chamber's web site or phone 208-415-0115 by July 6

Osprey photo: Tom Munson

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Biggest Fish of the Season at Silver Creek!!!!!!!

This may be the biggest fish caught of the 2006 season!! A 33" brown trout was caught by 2005 Silver Creek intern, Morgan Buckert. She told me where she was, but I'm afraid it is confidential!!!!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pahsimeroi River Work Day

The Silver Creek crew joined Mark Davidson, central Idaho progam manager, for a grueling couple of work days this past weekend. We were laying out the fence material for a 600'+ fence that will act to keep cattle away from the Pahsimeroi River and allow the native vegetation to flourish. An irrigation canal and spring fed creek meant carrying the fencing materials over 1000' and through two good sized waterways... ouch. Conservation is hard work, but we had a lot of fun doing it!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Silver Creek Weed Crew

Invasive weeds are a constant threat to our native plant communities and habitats. At the Silver Creek Preserve, we are battling weeds throughout the season using a variety of methods such as spraying, mowing, digging, and planting native plants. Weeds such as Canada thistle, knapweed, and dalmation toadflax, present a constant and intense challenge for us as land managers. Visit the Preserve Visitor Center to find out more about noxious weeds, what to look for, and how to help.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Silver Creek Water Monitoring

Monitoring at the Silver Creek Preserve is in full swing! We are monitoring flows, temperatures, and water chemistry, to name a few. Call if you have any questions or concerns or would like to help out!! Preserve office 788-7910.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thousand Springs Preserve is Open!

The Nature Conservancy’s Thousand Springs Preserve is open for the season. Our new volunteer caretakers, Kathy and Bill Berkley, are living on the island. They are happily greeting visitors and hope you come to see the preserve soon.

Kathy and Bill live in northern Idaho in Laclede, just west of Sandpoint. Before retiring, Bill worked as a teacher, small business owner and an appraiser for Bonner County. Kathy is retired as well and spent 21 years working as a teacher in the West Bonner County schools.

They will be staying at the preserve through the Thousand Springs Festival, held the last weekend in September.

The Nature Conservancy purchased the preserve in 1986 to protect the unique springs that form the falls that flow in the Snake River Canyon walls. These springs originate with the rivers that sink underground in the lava of the Craters of the Moon area, and emerge 200 years later here. The crystal-clear water and aquatic vegetation provides habitat for interesting wildlife, including the Shoshone sculpin, a fish species found nowhere else on earth.

The preserve includes Ritter Island, once the site of a state-of-the-art dairy farm. The historic barn and dairy facilities remain and are open to visitors. There are hiking trails around the island. The preserve is consistently one of the best birding spots in the state.

For more information, contact the Berkleys by email or phone (208) 536-6797.

Idaho Chapter Board Meets in Coeur d'Alene

Photo: Elaine French, Idaho Chapter board chair, and Bruce Runnels, the Conservancy's Rocky Mountain Region director

The Idaho Chapter board of trustees meets this Friday and Saturday in Coeur d'Alene. The board will be finalizing the chapter's annual planning process (with our fiscal year beginning July 1) and viewing our projects in North Idaho, including Cougar Bay Preserve and Ball Creek Ranch Preserve.

Many thanks to our trustees for providing the vision, expertise and leadership that makes all of the work reported on this blog possible!

Conservancy Purchases Ranch for Sage Grouse Habitat

Photo courtesy Robert Griffith

The Nature Conservancy has announced the purchase of the Bezold Ranch adjacent to its Crooked Creek Ranch Preserve, located 20 miles northwest of Dubois.

The 1920-acre property, which includes two miles of Crooked Creek, will provide the water necessary for the restoration of sage grouse habitat on the land. The Nature Conservancy plans to identify a conservation buyer—who shares the organization’s conservation goals—to own and manage the property.

The Crooked Creek basin is recognized as one of the most important strongholds for sage grouse in Idaho. Sage grouse use the area throughout the year, including during the spring mating season. The Conservancy has owned and managed the 2600-acre Crooked Creek Ranch Preserve and its nearly 70,000 acres of grazing allotments since 2001.

Working with partners, the Conservancy completed vegetation mapping and ecological survey of the ranch and its allotments. The recently completed survey found a high percentage of the ranch is still in very good ecological condition. A management plan has identified important habitat areas and degraded areas that need to be restored.

The new acquisition will provide an important expansion in this model sage grouse management project.

“This acquisition is the perfect compliment to the existing Crooked Creek Ranch Preserve, says Chet Work, East Idaho land steward for the Conservancy. “The Bezold property connects our existing protected lands to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and will protect valuable wildlife habitat and corridors which previously were not protected.”

The Conservancy plans to continue to focus its protection efforts in the Crooked Creek drainage and neighboring watersheds to connect the extensive habitat within the Idaho National Laboratory to the national forest and important private lands like the Bezold property.

“The Conservancy believes that the preservation of healthy sagebrush steppe habitat will benefit not only sage grouse but also other sagebrush dependent species including pronghorn, sage sparrows, sage thrashers, and Brewer’s sparrows,” says Work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Silver Creek Summer Projects and Monitoring

(above) Lonny checking well levels at reed canaary grass plots.

We are hard at work already this summer with numerous projects and ongoing monitoring. This week we are watering and montioring the Reed Canary grass experimental project started last summer and also continuing with our bi-monthly water monitoring.

Some other things we are working on:

Stalker Creek Streambank Treatment-
This is a continuation of the stream alteration project that began in 2003 on Stalker Creek. With the help of Intermountain Aquatics (IMA) we are testing the effectiveness of Wetland Sod and various methods of backfilling the existing bio-logs. We will test a variety of treatments and monitor their success over time, specifically to test their resistance to Reed Canary Grass establishment. This year we are planting over 30,000 rush plugs behind the bio-logs as well as over 50 wetland sod mats and hundreds of willow cuttings.

Reed Canary Grass Testing-
This is an experimental project on Reed Canary Grass. We have set up a
variety of test plots on the seasonally flooded benches of Stalker Creek and will be testing various treatments on Reed Canary Grass including various herbicide applications, the installation of wetland plugs, wetland sod, etc. If you notice flagging and stakes around Stalker Creek, these are the sample plots. The goal of this project is to test conventional revegetation and herbicide techniques and alternative techniques to determine the most effective alternative for Reed Canary Grass suppression.

Upland Restoration-
This project is an attempt to restore both upland areas where weeds have
taken over and agricultural land back to native dryland vegetation. Thirteen acres were burnt last fall and then seeded with natives. This summer we are watering the area and spot treating for weeds. This project also includes monitoring for success over time.

Vegetation monitoring-
One of our interns will be setting up several vegetation monitoring transects throughout the preserve this year. This will help us monitor the changes in vegetation communities over time.

Temperature monitoring-
We are setting up temperature monitoring throughout the preserve this year to suppliment and compliment information gathered by Chris James of University of Idaho as well as the information gathered from the thermal imaging project conducted in 2004.

Call us for volunteer information!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hemingway's Idaho Legacy

Yesterday's Associated Press story by Keith Ridler reports on the continued interest in Ernest Hemingway in the Ketchum area. The article includes information on The Nature Conservancy's Hemingway and Silver Creek preserves.

Friday, June 09, 2006

North Idaho Member Reception

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho invites you to a membership gathering at the Coeur d'Alene Cellar's winery. Join Idaho trustees, staff and other Conservancy members for wine, hors d'oeuvres and great conversation. Board chair Elaine French and state director Laura Hubbard will provide an update on the Conservancy's work in Idaho and beyond.

when: Thursday, June 15
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

where: Coeur d’Alene Cellars
3890 North Schrieber Way
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

rsvp: By June 5
preferred by e-mail to idahomembers@tnc.org
or [208] 676-8176

Free Podcast: Private Lives of Wolves

An Idaho couple spent six years living in a tented camp beside a captive wolf pack. The wildlife documentary filmmakers share the most riveting recordings they made during that time. Listen to this and other free podcasts now, or better yet, get a free subscription to Nature Stories, The Nature Conservancy's weekly podcast.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Welcome Members!

Welcome to all our Idaho Chapter members checking out this blog for the first time after reading about it in our summer member newsletter. Check back frequently for all the latest Nature Conservancy news, events, preserve reports and much more.

Please comment and feel free to suggest what you would like to see here. We want this to be your way of keeping in touch with our work around the state. The blog is updated weekly so please bookmark it and look for information on visiting our preserves, fishing reports and free electronic cards and podcasts.

Haven't received your summer member newsletter? Email the editor for a copy, free to our members.

Common Ground: Celebrating Conservation Partnerships

Cooperative partnerships are a cornerstone of The Nature Conservancy’s work around the world. By joining forces with organizations that share our vision we accomplish far more than we could on our own. By finding common ground with communities and developers, ranchers and farmers, government agencies and corporations, we develop creative and practical solutions that balance human needs with conservation goals.

Read a special feature on The Nature Conservancy's web site, including examples of partnerships around the United States.

In Idaho, the Conservancy works with many organizations, government agencies, farmers and ranchers, businesses and individuals around the state, including in the Owyhees (pictured), where the Conservancy is working for the future of its 45 Ranch and participating in the Owyhee Initiative.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Field Report: North Idaho Forest Legacy Tour

A report from the recent Forest Legacy tour in North Idaho by The Nature Conservancy's Steve Grourke. A special thanks to KBFI 1450 AM (Sandpoint and Bonner's Ferry) for covering the event. Photo: Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game habitat biologist Jeff Knetter is interviewed by KBFI radio host JoJo Baker.

On May 31, over twenty state and federal agency representatives and non-profit conservation partners from Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington and New Hampshire journeyed to the Lower Kootenai River Valley for the 2006 Forest Service Region 1 & 4 Forest Legacy Program field tour.

As coordinator for the first day of the two-day Legacy tour, the Conservancy brought together a variety of community leaders, resource experts and stakeholders to introduce and educate the trip participants to the valley. Forest Legacy is a US Forest Service sponsored, federally funded program that seeks to protect forestlands that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses.

In Idaho, Legacy is administered by the Idaho Department of Lands and to date has helped protect over 54,000 acres in the state. Lands enrolled in the Legacy Program are subject to a perpetual conservation easement that restricts future subdivision and development of the property, while promoting traditional uses such as sustainable forestry, farming, ranching and in some cases public access.

In 2005, the Conservancy supported a Legacy project application by its partners, the Vital Ground Foundation. Vital Ground is working to protect a 1650-acre, third generation family forest that provides economic, cultural, social and natural resource benefits to Boundary County, the State and Intermountain West. The Clifty Mountain Foothills Project, consisting of a North Idaho mixed conifer forest, includes a heritage stand of old-growth cedar and an ornamental and seed-tree nursery, which annually contributes millions of dollars to the local, state and regional economy and is one of the largest employers in the County.

Located in the Conservancy’s Kootenai River “A” conservation area – a priority 1 CA in the Canadian Rockies Ecoregion, the project supports an abundance of federally threatened, endangered and candidate species and state species of concern. The project is immediately adjacent to the Boulder Creek grizzly bear management unit, lynx recovery zone, and a newly established gray wolf pack resides in that same drainage. Three tributaries to the river are located on the project, which support white sturgeon, bull trout, burbot and westslope cutthroat trout.

The tour began with an inspired and impassioned welcome speech by Boundary County Commissioner Dan Dinning. Commissioner Dinning talked about the importance of working farms, ranches and forests in maintaining the rural economy and traditions of the county. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge manager, Dianna Ellis introduced the group to the refuge and detailed how the various habitats on the refuge support migratory avian and terrestrial species as well as aquatic life along Kootenai River riparian areas.

Idaho Fish and Game biologist, Wayne Wakkinen highlighted the variety of unique species that call the valley home, and spoke to the value of private, working forests in support of wide ranging species such as grizzly bear.

A wonderful lunch barbeque was served up by local legend JoJo Baker. In addition to his culinary skills, JoJo is an accomplished auctioneer and radio DJ. Every Wednesday, JoJo hosts a radio interview show on KBFI in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and this week’s show was broadcast live from the Conservancy’s Ball Creek Ranch. The show’s lineup included interviews with the Conservancy’s Steve Grourke, Jeff Knetter (IDFG), Di Ellis (USFWS), Mike Gondek (NRCS), Kirk David (IDL) and Deidre Raimo (USFS). After the show (and peach cobbler dessert), the tour continued with presentations on private industrial conservation easements by Jared France of Forest Capital Partners and an overview of the wetland restoration projects on the ranch. At the northern end of the valley, the group discussed more wetland topics as well as non-industrial forest protection projects on and adjacent to the Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Vital Ground is working with a fourth generation landowner to protect 150 acres of forest and agricultural land to the south of the WMA and the IDFG and NRCS are continuing to improve the habitat at Boundary Creek and the adjacent Smith Creek WMA. The final stop on the tour was to the Clifty Mountain Foothills project. Under blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s, the group hiked up logging roads and down into a naturally regenerated forest to learn more about the project. From the middle of Clifty the group looked down on the valley to the places they had visited throughout the day. With 180 degree views of this intact and wild landscape, it was easy to see how each existing protected land adds to the collective conservation success of the valley - keep working forests working and provide critical habitat and linkages for native species. --Steve Grourke, North Idaho Program

Monday, June 05, 2006

Brown Drakes are Hatching

Standing along Silver Creek this past weekend, you could feel the anticipation. And then, as if by magic, the large mayflies began hovering over the meadow, and hatching on the creek. Thousands of insects everywhere, and trout smacking the surface to gorge on this bounty.

It's a great natural spectacle, one followed by fly fishers but spectacular for anyone who enjoys wild things and wild places.

The brown drake hatch actually occurs downstream of Silver Creek Preserve, on the Point of Rocks area (owned by Idaho Department of Fish and Game). It is just another of the many natural wonders on this spring creek to celebrate during the preserve's 30th anniversary season.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nature Conservancy President Salutes the Visionary Leadership of Henry Paulson

Conservancy Board Chairman Nominated as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Steve McCormick, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, highlighted the leadership of out-going Nature Conservancy Board Chairman Henry M. Paulson, who today was nominated by President Bush to be the next Secretary of the Treasury.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More about Opening Weekend at Silver Creek

Although the weather was stormy and cold, we had over 200 anglers at the Preserve this Memorial Day weekend. Over the weekend there were many observations and questions about the changes in the creek. On April 6th and 7th this year, Silver Creek experienced a flood-- we measured over 400 c.f.s. above the S-turns!! The flooding changed the creek a lot in places- you will notice areas of gravel exposed in the middle of the creek where vegetation and channels used to be and areas along the banks where silt was deposited. In time, the sediment along the banks should stabilize as vegetation takes hold. Please try and be careful not to walk through these sediment deposits and stir up the silt. It is difficult, because there are so many areas now that hold silt, but if we are patient and careful this flooding that Silver Creek experienced could turn out to be very beneficial to the creek. --Dayna Smith, Silver Creek Preserve manager

Photos: Silt deposits in Silver Creek (top) and the flooding on April 6 and 7, 2006 (bottom).