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Easement Protects Public-Land Access in South-Central ID

The Cenarussa Ranch easement provides more than three miles of access to public lands. (Tess O'Sullivan/TNC)
The Cenarussa Ranch easement provides more than three miles of access to public lands. (Tess O'Sullivan/TNC)
January 14, 2020

CAREY, Idaho -- A conservation easement in south-central Idaho is helping protect access to public lands. The easement surrounds the Cenarrusa Ranch, located northeast of the town of Carey, between the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon National Monument.

It will preserve about 7,600 acres of land as well as more than three miles of access to public lands. Codie Martin is field manager for the Bureau of Land Management's Shoshone office. He said The Nature Conservancy approached his agency to see if it was interested in protections.

"That would keep this land open, free of future developments, and keep the working, operating ranch - that's what's critical to these small-town communities - as well," Martin said. "So it's something we were obviously interested in participating in."

Martin said farming and livestock grazing on the ranch will stay open under its new managers at the BLM. The easement was purchased with funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program supported by offshore oil and gas royalties that preserves access to public lands.

The easement secures recreation and hunting opportunities in the area. It also protects habitat for sage grouse and a key corridor for pronghorn as they make one of the longest migrations in the West.

Tess O'Sullivan, conservation manager with The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, said this region is important as temperatures rise because it's identified as a part of the state that could resist some of the effects of climate change.

"This has been part of a larger effort to conserve this landscape - the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon area - and it's been identified as an area of high climate resilience by scientists," O'Sullivan said.

She said that resilience may be beneficial for wildlife as well as other uses for the land, such as ranching.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy of Idaho contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID