Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Groups plan to preserve ranch in southern Blaine

Rock Creek property includes wildlife habitat


By ROGER PHILLIPS
Idaho Statesman
    The Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy have submitted a proposal to Blaine County for funding to help acquire and protect Rock Creek Ranch, a 10,400-acre working ranch among the largest private properties in Blaine County. The property could eventually be turned over to Idaho Fish and Game and become a wildlife management area.
    The ranch encompasses the entire Rock Creek drainage southwest of Hailey and consists of high-quality sagebrush-steppe habitat, aspen forest and river miles along Rock Creek, according to a news release from The Nature Conservancy, which also owns a large tract of land at nearby Silver Creek.


If successful, the project will provide
for ranching and grazing to continue.


    In an effort to permanently protect the area, the property’s landowners, the Rinker family, offered to sell the property substantially below fair market value to the Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy.
    “The Rinker family had an opportunity to give back to the community and at the same time honor our father, Harry Rinker, who had the vision to acquire this asset some 20 years ago,” said Bart Rinker. “We are extremely grateful to the Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy for helping us make this a reality.”
    If successful, the project will provide for ranching and grazing to continue, while preventing future development, the news release said. The project proposes to leverage federal, state and private funds with Blaine County Land, Water, and Wildlife Program resources.
    Rock Creek Ranch is a high priority for the Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game because of its intact fish and wildlife habitat, size, location and the threat of development. The property contains summer and winter habitat for elk and mule deer along with mule deer migration corridors. Intact big-game habitat in Blaine County is considered of particular importance, due to recent fire activity and resulting loss of winter forage and forests.




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