The nonprofit Land Trust of the Treasure Valley needs to raise $100,000 by Oct. 28 to acquire 320 acres of open space, wildlife habitat and recreation property sandwiched between Avimor and Freddy’s Stack Rock. And it’s turning to the public for help.
The South Fork Willow Creek property came available recently when the landowner approached LTTV about wanting to sell the property but keep it protected as open space for the public to enjoy. The seller priced the property at $250,000; LTTV currently has $172,000 to put toward it, according to the trust’s Executive Director Eric Grace. The land trust is asking for donations to be made to help it secure the rest of the funding needed.
“We’re really excited about this project, because these opportunities come very seldom where you have a willing landowner who wants to see their property protected,” Grace said at a press conference. “As we know, development in the Treasure Valley now is at levels we’ve never seen before. Also, our property values are at levels we’ve never seen before. So to have an opportunity to acquire 320 acres for $250,000 is a rare opportunity.”
Grace said the opportunity for the purchase fits right in line with the primary purpose of the land trust, which is to work with private landowners to find ways to do permanent land protection. They do this to provide a balance with the rampant growth the area is facing.
“It is definitely some prime real estate. That’s why we want to step up to the plate and see it protected forever,” Grace said.
The parcel is mostly sagebrush with “beautiful rock formations” and is an important wintering site for deer and elk. It also houses sage grouse and there have even been signs of black bears in the area. The property currently is bounded on three sides by property that Grace said will never be developed.
There are already a few established trails at the site. The long-term goal would be to establish more trails, including ones that go from Avimor or Hidden Springs to Freddy’s Stack Rock, Grace said.
“As the Treasure Valley grows, we need to disperse the recreationists. We need to find out other opportunities for trail users,” Grace said. “So any opportunity we can do we can make that happen, we will.”
The trust’s plans for the parcel could also include selling it to the Bureau of Land Management so the agency could protect and maintain it. Grace said BLM and the land trust are currently in conversations about the potential sale of the land but BLM wouldn’t be able to commit to a sale until early next year and the current property owner needs to sell it now. That’s why, Grace said, LTTV is going to “step up to the plate to secure it.”
Sydney Kidd oversees and reports for the Kuna Melba News and Meridian Press weeklies, in addition to her reporting and editing duties for the Idaho Press. She is a graduate of Utah State University and holds a degree in journalism. Previously, Kidd completed internships with Boise Weekly and Deseret News. A true Boise girl, she is happy to be working for a newspaper that serves the area she grew up in. In her free time, Kidd enjoys water and snow sports, discovering new food joints with her husband and occasionally running away to the ocean.