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
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.