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Little Spokane River watershed conserved

A Stevens County landowner has signed conservation easements to protect 3,900 acres of forest land west of Horseshoe Lake.

The latest of two easements assures 2,540 acres will remain a working forest while protecting wildlife habitat on land owned by Beryl Baker.

In 2009, Baker protected 1,363 acres of the timberland that’s been in his family for nearly 50 years.

The land includes 68-acre Baker Lake fed by Beaver Creek and other seasonal tributaries in the Little Spokane Watershed.

Not far from the Baker property, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department also is protecting habitat in the Spokane River Watershed. In 2009, the agency acquired 1,693 acres of wildlife-rich wetlands and uplands from Horseshoe Lake south to Fan Lake in Pend Oreille County.

The agency will manage the land primarily for wildlife habitat while allowing public access to previously private land.

The Baker property remains private under the conservation easement, owned and tended by the family.

The land provides wetland habitat and year-round habitat for deer, elk, moose, bear, cougar and other animals. It’s the biggest land package to be preserved by the Spokane-based Inland Northwest Land Trust, which is responsible for managing the easement in perpetuity.

“Rural areas are some of the last wild places left untamed in Eastern Washington and landowner Beryl Baker will make sure they stay that way forever,” says Chris DeForest, INLT executive director.

Timber will continue to be harvested in a sustainable fashion under the easement, he said.

Baker, who grew up on a Kahlotus-area wheat farm, purchased the property in 1966 after seeing an ad in the Wall Street Journal.

“I needed a change from banking in Seattle,” he said.

“The property can only be used for timber production and wildlife habitat,” Baker said, noting that only two 10-acre sites are developed with his family’s buildings. “This will provide the animals with a permanent home.”