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.”