Friday the 13th proved lucky for Inland Northwest Land Trust as two projects closed on the same day helping protect 439 acres in local watersheds and over 15,000 acres total.
On Dec. 13, the Land Trust warded off bad luck with the closing of two conservation easements in two watersheds and protecting 439 acres and over 2 miles of shoreline.
The Land Trust worked with the Ralph Hein family for over 13 years to protect 142 acres and a half-mile of shoreline along Latah Creek near Spangle. The family conservation easement is located near the 322-acre Bryant-Sayre conservation easement adjoining the Qualchan Monument and 10 miles from the 40-acre Grouse Creek Ranch and continues the two miles of shoreline already protected. Meadows, basalt cliffs, and farmland are the diverse land features on the property. Wildlife such as deer, pheasant, elk, eagle and moose depend on the protected habitat.
The land is part of the family's original homestead. Teri Hein's great grandparents, the Thams family, purchased the land in the late 1800s.
"My grandmother told us stories of Native Americans camping on the property," Hein said in a news release. "She inherited this piece and passed it on to my mom and dad. We feel the right thing to do with this property is a conservation easement since we have control over it."
This is the Land Trust's third protected land along Latah Creek and fourth within the Latah Creek watershed.
The Land Trust also protected 297 acres along Priest River near Priest River, Idaho. The Rundquist conservation easement includes Sanborn Creek a spawning tributary for Idaho's federally protected bull trout, over a mile and a half of stream banks and shoreline including Priest River, 18 springs, and many intermittent streams. The habitat is critical for wildlife such as elk and is in a corridor of other lands protected by the Land Trust and other conservation-minded organizations.
The Nature Conservancy originally acquired the land thanks to a donation by a landowner John Rundquist. Prior to sale, conservancy worked with the Land Trust to place an easement with a comprehensive forest management plan on the property to protect the streams, creeks, and river.
"The Rundquist property is home to iconic species such as bull trout, elk and Calypso orchids," Director of Protection with the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy Susanna Danner said. "These plants and animals depend on the region's open and natural areas for survival; and working forest landowners depend on these open spaces for their livelihoods.
"The Nature Conservancy is working collaboratively to protect working timberlands across northern Idaho for the wildlife and people that depend on them. We are grateful to Inland Northwest Land Trust for their partnership and excellent stewardship of the Rundquist conservation easement along this important reach of the Priest River."
Stimson Lumber Company will purchase the property as restricted by conservation easement and will maintain a working forest to add to its forestland base in north Idaho.
This is the Land Trust's sixth protected land in Bonner County and second along Priest River.
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses or prevents development from taking place on a piece of property, generally in perpetuity, to protect the land's conservation values and traditional uses. The landowner continues to own and manage the land.
The Hein and Rundquist property are the 46th and 47th conservation easements that Inland Northwest Land Trust holds.
Formed in 1991, Inland Northwest Land Trust is a local non-profit organization that works with willing private landowners to protect the region's natural lands, waters, and working farms and forests for the benefit of wildlife, our community and future generations. INLT has helped protect over 15,000 acres of prime habitat and working forests in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.