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Protection on the Pack

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Conservation easement protects the Pack River

by Suzanne Sawyer

 Last January, I received a phone call from landowners on the Pack River who wanted to protect their 66 acres of land with a donated conservation easement. I packed up my snowshoes and met the landowner for a great wintertime hike through a beautiful forest that eventually brought us to the edge of the Pack River. It was obvious that these landowners had managed their land for wildlife values and that the property was in a very natural condition. Beaver were busy taking down diseased birch trees and the fresh snow was covered in deer, moose and elk tracks. The river contained lots of large woody debris, and the riverbanks were well vegetated—factors that make for great fish habitat conditions.

Last week, the landowners and the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy signed a conservation easement that will permanently protect this portion of the Pack River for wildlife habitat values. About 60 percent of the easement is within the 100-year floodplain and the easement has special restrictions to protect the entire floodplain and associated wetlands from any impacts that might alter the natural ecosystem. The easement protects both sides of the Pack River for almost a quarter mile. 

The Pack River is a migratory corridor for bull trout and cutthroat trout that spawn in the upper reaches of the watershed. Bull trout are a threatened species in Idaho and cutthroat are a species of concern.  About 40 percent of the easement is outside the floodplain and can still be managed for sustainable timber harvest and other traditional land uses.

As development pressure accelerates in Bonner County, more and more rural landowners are considering conservation easements as tools for protecting their land from potential subdivision and development. The Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy is a regional, nonprofit land trust governed by a volunteer board of directors, who are all local people. Donated conservation easements usually qualify for federal income tax deductions and can also potentially reduce estate taxes. To learn more about protecting your land, you can visit our website at www.sandpoint.net/cfpoconservancy or call 208-263-9471 to receive more information.

-Suzanne Sawyer, Executive Director, Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy

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Environment, Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy, conservation easements, Pack River

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