By Published On: March 13, 2016

Ducks Unlimited, Idaho Fish & Game Acquire Landmark Property in Market Lake

By Chris Bonsignore and Chris Colson, Ducks Unlimited

A great deal of excitement was generated by Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) 2013 acquisition of an 825-acre property in the historic Market Lake basin near Roberts, Idaho. The property, well known in eastern Idaho for its shooting range (Western Wings, Birds and Clays), contains some unusual features that make it a great DU acquisition. Building on that momentum, in 2016, Idaho Fish and Game acquired 325 acres of the property with financial support from a NAWCA grant administrated by Pheasants Forever with matching contributions from Ducks Unlimited, Idaho Fish and Game, and Teton Regional Land Trust (TRLT). TRLT purchased a conservation easement on some of the cropland, which along with the lodge, RV park and shooting course, were then sold to a local farmer.

Photo by Josh Rydalch, Idaho Fish and Game. Trumpeter Swans captured and banded in the Blackfoot Valley, Montana, return to ponds on DU’s recently acquired Market Lake Ranch, Idaho.  

Most of the tract is an agricultural complex that includes over 400 acres of wetland pasture, nearly 300 acres of irrigated farmland, and 35 acres of open ponds.  But unlike any other farm or ranch in the vicinity, this unique property also contains a lodge and RV park along with a trap, skeet, and sporting clays course.  Acquisition of this property provides new opportunities for DU to fulfill its conservation mission in Idaho while expanding public access in the area for hunting, wildlife viewing, shooting, and other outdoor activities. 

The property, now known as Market Lake Ranch, sits within Market Lake area, a palustrine marsh that once covered 16,000 acres and supported large concentrations of waterfowl.  The area gained its name during the early 1900s when commercial waterfowl hunting occurred there.  The diversity of habitats on the property support over a dozen duck species, Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, and other waterbirds. White-faced ibis from the regionally significant nesting colonies at Market and Mud Lakes also use the property.

DU and its partners will conduct restoration and enhancement activities here over the coming years to further improve resources for waterfowl and other wildlife.