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Eye On Boise

‘Another gem for the Gem State’

Gov. Jim Risch held what’s likely to be his last official press conference in his term as governor today, to announce that the Nature Conservancy is giving the state a big gift – the Thousand Springs Reserve and Ritter Island on the Snake River for a new state park, plus a million-dollar endowment to pay for managing the new park in perpetuity.

“Even for you, I think it’s going to be difficult to find a dark side to this,” an enthusiastic Risch told the assembled members of the press.

The preserve includes 310 acres and the Minnie Miller Springs, which is one of the largest remaining natural spring complexes in the Thousand Springs area. Thousand Springs is the spot where clear, 58-degree water that’s traveled 50 miles underground through the desert spurts out of a nearly vertical bluff of lava rock in an array of natural springs. Some of the water comes from the Lost River and Little Lost River, whose waters disappear underground far away and are “lost” before re-emerging at the springs.

The preserve includes historic sites, picnic areas, abundant wildlife and more. “Christmas has come early for Idahoans,” Risch said. “Today we add another gem to the Gem State. … It’s a magnificent piece of property.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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