About 76-hundred acres of land and more than three miles of access to public lands located between the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon National Monument are being protected thanks to the help of a conservation easement. The easement surrounds the Cenarrusa Ranch, located northeast of the town of Carey, which was recently purchased from The Nature Conservancy.
Codie Martin is the 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,” Marin 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 with The Nature Conservancy of 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.
O'Sullivan said that resilience may be beneficial for wildlife as well as other uses of the land, such as ranching.