Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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Multi-generational ranches protect areas vital to Idaho’s wildlife, water, agriculture and communities

BOISE - Nearly 2,000 acres of historic working lands and wildlife habitat in Blaine County will be protected by conservation easements through a collaboration between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Molyneux Family, The Nature Conservancy, Wood River Land Trust and Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife Program.

This unique, family legacy project is protecting farmland, wetlands, and water resources on properties homesteaded by the Molyneux family 60 years ago. The easements permanently protect these lands, which are located in four areas deemed as priority regions for wildlife habitat, water and scenic conservation in Blaine County. 

In 1953, Bill and Maxine Molyneux acquired their first property—a 160-acre parcel adjacent to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Hayspur hatchery. Over the last 60 years, the family acquired more than 7,000 acres of farming and ranching lands, where they raised their family and made a living on the land. In order to protect their generations-old ranches, the Molyneuxs are donating portions of the easements’ values.

“These lands mean a great deal to us and we want to see them permanently protected for the value they provide to wildlife, to the community and to local agriculture,” says Bill Molyneux. “It’s also important to us to make a positive, long-term contribution to our community.”

Funding for the easement projects comes from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). The FRPP provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. The Wetland Reserve Program supports landowners that want to improve or re-establish wetlands on their property. 

Additional funding will come from Blaine County’s Land, Water and Wildlife Program. On February 17, 2015 the Board of County Commissioners approved $992,122 towards the purchase of these easements by TNC and the Land Trust. The Nature Conservancy and Land Trust will steward the easements in perpetuity.

The project includes five separate ranches, each with unique natural and agricultural resources:
·       Bill and Maxine’s ranch near the Silver Creek Preserve contains agricultural lands and important wetlands habitat;
·       The ranches owned by John and Kristy Molyneux and John, Chip, and Billy Molyneux along scenic Highway 75 are within one of the most notable viewsheds in Blaine County and contain productive agricultural land;  
·       Chip and Kathy Molyneux’s property adjacent to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve contains working farmland, Huff Lake, and wetland habitat.  Their parcel in the Pioneer foothills provides upland sagebrush-steppe habitat and agricultural lands; and
·       Billy Molyneux’s ranch contains over one mile of Silver Creek and the Little Wood River and agricultural lands south of Carey.

NRCS offers funding for conservation easement acquisition and works with local organizations and landowners to conserve natural resources on private lands..

The Nature Conservancy works with farmers and ranchers to protect wildlife habitat and maintain working farms and ranches in Idaho, the United States and internationally.

Wood River Land Trust works with private landowners and local communities to protect and restore land, water, and wildlife habitat in the Wood River Valley and surrounding areas.

Blaine County Land, Water and Wildlife Program works to achieve optimal conservation value and protect land, water and wildlife for future generations.

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