616 Acres of Key Wildlife Habitat Permanently Protected
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Diverse Landscape Conserved by Clark Fork -Pend Oreille Conservancy
SANDPOINT, ID -- A historic forest, ranch and farm homestead, abutting the State Morton Slough Wildlife Refuge on the Pend Oreille River near Sandpoint is now permanently protected from development and subdivision thanks to the work of the Clark Fork -Pend Oreille Conservancy. The Conservancy was supported in this work by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and by funding from the Wetlands Trust and the Equinox Foundation in partnership with the Inland Northwest Community Foundation.
The spectacularly scenic 616-acre preserved property includes a diverse landscape including expansive forested mountainsides with towering cliffs, rich wetland areas, productive agricultural lands and pristine river shoreline.
“Conserving this land is a win-win for all. The extremely scenic landscape is preserved, thus, benefiting the public. The diverse wildlife habitat is protected, including critical, irreplaceable winter range for moose, elk and deer. This model working farm, native forests and timber lands will remain intact forever, and never be subdivided, developed, mined or damaged. The project protects the water quality of the Pend Oreille River. It also protects over 50 acres of wetlands” said Robb McCracken, the Clark Fork- Pend Oreille Conservancy’s (CFPOC) Executive Director for Conservation.
For 83 years the same family has managed this working ranch and timberlands. “It’s pretty well unspoiled land,” said Virginia Overland whose parents first bought the property in 1928. “We are kind of an island here. We are surrounded by subdivisions now and it’s ruining wildlife habitat. We feel it is necessary to save this piece of land for the wildlife”.
The “Overland Tree Farm” as the family refers to their property, provides vital habitat for a huge variety of animals including elk, black bear, bobcats, and mountain lion in the uplands, as well as moose, birds, waterfowl and fish in the wetland areas. In fact, over 2,000 birds have been counted on this slough in a single day according to studies conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy (CFPOC), the local non-profit land trust, partners with private willing landowners such as Virginia and Orrin Overland to protect the conservation values of ecologically critical lands through the creation of conservation easements and other conservation methods. According to Mr. Mc Cracken of the Conservancy: “These conservation easements are permanent legal agreements that restrict or prohibit certain land uses such as development and land subdivision, while at the same time, the easements still allow for a wide range of land owner activities such as farming, ranching, specified recreation, sustainable timber harvesting or some limited residential use. A conservation easement allows the landowner to own their land, live on it, and use it for a variety of activities while still protecting the natural area, ecosystem, and traditional working agriculture and timber management forever for the good of the community, the wildlife and the environment. Conservation easements truly are win-win permanent agreements for the landowner and the public interest in land conservation.”
To date, the CFPOC has helped to forever preserve over 1,683 acres of working farms, ranches, forests and important fish and wildlife habitat in Bonner County, Idaho and Sanders County, Montana. Several other CFPOC/landowner projects are nearing completion.
“As our region continues to experience rapid growth and increased development pressure, the need for protecting our last, special places is becoming more and more important,” said Kyler Wolf, CFPOC Board President. “A conservation easement is a viable option for landowners hoping to protect their lands and some landowners may even qualify for financial incentives including federal income tax incentives. In some cases landowners could be eligible for development rights purchases. We urge all landowners to seek tax and financial advice from independent financial advisors.”
To learn more about how you can protect your land or how you can support the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy work with private landowners visit their website at www.cfpoconservancy.org or give them a call at 208-263-9471.