The historic 157-acre Rodeo Grounds Ranch, which straddles Valley Creek five miles northwest of Stanley, is now permanently protected with a conservation easement.
The Trust for Public Land paid $3.27 million for development rights on the property, which hosted the Fourth of July Custer County Rodeo in the 1930s. According to a news release from the San Francisco, Calif.,-based nonprofit organization, the ranch was one of the largest unprotected properties in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
"The ranch, with its stunning views of the entire Sawtooth Range, was extremely vulnerable to subdivision and development,” said Regional Forester Nora Rasure.
The Trust for Public Land stated that the purchase ensures that the land will never be subdivided, enhancing scenic and recreational values as well as community fire protection. The easement purchase was accomplished in partnership with the Sawtooth Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the SNRA.
The property will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the SNRA, allowing continued historic use and private ownership of it while conserving its scenic values and recreational access for anglers to Valley Creek, which runs through the property.
“The Rodeo Grounds Ranch is the most historically important and largest unprotected scenic property in the Stanley Basin, a vital piece of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area,” said Paul Hill, president of the Sawtooth Society.
According to the news release, funding to purchase the conservation easement came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Money for the fund comes from fees paid by oil and gas companies to drill offshore, and not from taxpayers.
“The Forest Service appreciates The Trust for Public Land’s assistance in the acquisition of the conservation easement for the Rodeo Grounds Ranch on Valley Creek,” said Rasure.
The Trust for Public Land has completed eight projects in the SNRA, from a one-acre parcel in Stanley to the 1,800-acre Piva Ranch.
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land operates from more than 30 offices nationwide. It has protected more than 3 million acres, from the inner city to the wilderness, and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation.