On Thursday, September 17, 2020, the Teton Regional Land Trust increased the protection of a large wetland complex at the head of Spring Creek, near Tetonia, and secured important habitat for Sandhill Cranes. Just upstream of the confluence of Spring Creek and North Leigh Creek, the Spring Creek Ranch is a mix of wetlands and spring creeks surrounded by sagebrush-covered hills. In 2015, the Land Trust purchased 180 acres adjacent to their Petzoldt Preserve, a small parcel protected for its wetland habitat in 2004. The property was purchased because of the valuable wetlands that provide habitat for five Sandhill Crane nests and important fall roosting habitat for staging Sandhill Cranes. The uplands also provide critical winter range for elk and moose.
The new conservation easement will add an additional 110 acres of conserved land to the existing 200 acres already protected and enhance habitat protection for native plants, fish, and wildlife including “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” as outlined in the Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan including Ferruginous Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Northern Leopard Frog, Common Nighthawk, Trumpeter Swan, Short-eared Owl, and Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse. “We are very excited to protect more important habitat in Teton Valley. This land is used year-round by wildlife including wintering elk and nesting and staging Sandhill Cranes in the summer and fall,” says Joselin Matkins, Teton Regional Land Trust Executive Director.
This marks the 81st conservation easement completed in Teton Valley in partnership with willing landowners and the Land Trust. It builds on the protection of over 11,000 acres of valley habitat and working lands that benefits both people and wildlife. For 30 years, and across eastern Idaho, the Land Trust has worked with partner organizations and willing landowners for the last thirty years to protect over 34,000 acres through conservation easements and other voluntary conservation options. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that allows for farming and ranching of properties as well as limited residential construction, but permanently restricts the amount and type of future development.