November 1, 2009 in Idaho

Wildlife, forest boosted

Funds buy easements north of Sandpoint
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A key North Idaho wildlife migration corridor will be protected forever, along with timber harvesting and nonmotorized public access, under a project that was approved by Congress for $3.4 million in federal funding this week.

In the McArthur Lake area between Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, the project approved under the federal Forest Legacy program will pay for 3,700 acres of permanent conservation easements on forest land owned by Forest Capital Partners. That means the land will never be developed.

“This is important to our community, as the owners of these lands have chosen to keep them as working forests,” said Boundary County Commissioner Dan Dinning.

Kevin Boling, western director of land transactions for Forest Capital Partners, said, “The McArthur Lake project is another example of how a sustainably managed working forest can provide important wildlife habitat and support local communities with jobs and revenues at the same time.”

The Nature Conservancy helped negotiate the agreements, which cover an area that’s used by moose, elk, deer and other wildlife as a passageway between the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak mountains.

“The McArthur Lake project is our best and last hope to protect this important big game habitat,” said Robyn Miller, North Idaho conservation manager for the Nature Conservancy. Terms of the easement are still being finalized, but the land will remain open for hunting and nonmotorized public access as well as timber harvesting.

The project competed with others from across the nation for the funding; the president’s budget recommended funding nearly 50 projects, but the funding Congress approved was for 36 of the top projects. The McArthur Lake project easily made the cut; it was ranked third in the nation for funding priority.


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