Private land conservation easements ensure opportunities for continued farming and ranching while protecting important wildlife habitat and other conservation values that provide significant public benefits.

POCATELLO – Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust (SSLT) completed a conservation easement Nov. 30 that protects 1,182 acres of important ranchland, open space and wildlife habitat in Bingham County.

“My sole interest [in this conservation easement] was to maintain my property as ranchland and to protect it from future development as residential or recreational properties,” explained the landowner, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Working with the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service was a very favorable experience, and I found the personnel to be very helpful in this process.”

Conservation easements are voluntary agreements that limit development to protect agricultural and wildlife habitat values. Landowners and land trusts work together to establish the specific terms of a conservation easement, tailoring each agreement to the unique conservation values of the property and the interests and goals of both parties.

“Conservation easements are an essential tool in protecting habitat, open space and valuable parts of Idaho farming and ranching heritage, but their benefits reach far beyond that. They build community amongst exemplary landowners like this one, essential agencies like NRCS, and leaders of the conservation mission such as SSLT,” said Jaime Campbell, former SSLT Conservation Manager and Conservation Easement Contractor. “These kinds of connections bring a great diversity of people together over a shared commitment to our natural places, building a stronger future for continued conservation success. I am immensely grateful for the experience working amongst that community and to have played a role in protecting this special piece of Idaho, forever.”

This conservation easement permanently protects important open space and ranchland within the Willow Creek drainage and enhances the natural and traditional values tied to the property.

“Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust is honored to work with such fine landowners who are deeply connected to the land and committed stewards of it,” SSLT Executive Director Matt Lucia said. “The conservation easement agreement on this working cattle ranch ensures continued agricultural uses while protecting habitat for a variety of wildlife species including mule deer, elk, moose, sharp-tailed grouse and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Conservation easement agreements are tools for landowners that wish to leave a legacy of agriculture, wildlife habitat and open space for the generations to come.”

Funding for this conservation easement was made possible through a collaborative partnership with USDA-NRCS and three foundations.

“NRCS Idaho extends profound gratitude for the invaluable collaboration with Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and the landowner, safeguarding the ranch for both operational vitality and pristine wildlife habitat indefinitely,” said Tracie O’Neill, state easement coordinator for NRCS in Idaho.