Carey Landowers Meet with Salmon Ranchers

Last Wednesday, a group of Carey landowners met for discussion and lamb stew with Tom McFarland and Merrill Beyler, two ranchers from the Salmon-Lemhi region. Tom, a third generation cattle rancher from Salmon, was the first to speak. Tom and his brothers were looking to expand their ranch property and knew that they wanted to leave the land in better shape than they had found it. Tom attended early meetings of Salmon Valley Stewardship, which focused on the joint goals of staying sustainable, promoting conservation and helping family ranchers. Tom eventually decided to form the Lemhi Regional Land Trust, a local land trust that ranchers could identify with. In 2009, Tom did an easement on his property, through the Lemhi Regional Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, and said that the process has had a huge positive effect on his ranch.

Merrill next spoke about his land in Leadore. He spoke proudly of his cattle ranch, which runs along the Lemhi River, where salmon spawn. Merrill was really a pioneer in putting together conservation projects on his property. In 1991, he set up a fencing project to improve salmon habitat and for the past 15 years, has avoided grazing riparian pasture during the spawning season. Merrill talked about his love of small communities and desire to sustain this disappearing part of the American landscape. As he said, “agriculture is what sustains these small communities.” To protect his working ranch, he decided to place an easement on his property, and said that “it’s been good for us, our land, and our community.”

Both ranchers answered questions about the specific programs they went through, the challenges of setting up an easement and the long term benefits. Tom and Merrill emphasized that the easement process can be challenging, but in the end both parties need to focus on their shared goals of ensuring that working farms remain working farms now and into the future. Tom summed it up well in saying, “I can have a significant positive influence for a very long time.”


Pronghorn Migrate from Lower Little Wood to Leadore

Pioneers Alliance partners are wrapping up the second year of a two-year pronghorn migration study. Recently, they recovered GPS collars that record the movements of 14 does between September 2009 and August 2010. Lighthawk and expert pilot Steven Garman helped them find the last collar.

Two results stand out when comparing new data with observations from the 2008-2009 migration:

  • Two does moved farther than any had in the previous year, traveling 150 miles one way and almost reaching Leadore, Idaho.
  • A narrow migration route between lower Fish Creek and Arco is identical in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 studies.

The National Park Service is already using migration data to modify their fences to better accommodate pronghorn passage. This fall, partners will be working with local landowners to map fences lines within the migration corridor to look for other opportunities to support movement of these animals.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has plans to build on this migration research, beginning with a winter capture planned for early December 2010.

The pronghorn research project has been a great success and we are grateful to all our partners!


Pioneers Listed as Priority GRP Area

NRCS recently announced that the private lands in the foothills of the Pioneer mountains will be considered a priority area for NRCS’s Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). This breakthrough is the result of both the efforts of the Pioneers Alliance and NRCS’s recognition of the importance of protecting this landscape and its working farmlands from development. Read the press release from NRCS here.
The Grasslands Reserve Program provides funding for conservation easements, which ensure that working farms remain working farms now and into the future. Learn more about GRP through this fact sheet.
Applications are due October 1st. The application is very straightforward and easy to complete. We encourage you to apply by calling Kevin Davidson at 866.2258 (extension 3). Please call Mike Stevens (788.1710) with any questions.