Bridging the Gap Between Public Wildlife Areas and Private Ranchland

A ranch that sits directly between two wildlife areas in southeast Idaho is forever protected thanks to a visionary ranching family and several conservation partners. Over the past four years, Pheasants Forever and its partners have been working to improve wildlife habitat adjacent to Mud Lake, near Hamer, Idaho.  The acquisition of the Marty Ranch in Jefferson County secures a linkage between two significant public land holdings for wildlife.

The strategic acquisition of the Marty property (outlined in yellow) creates a linkage between the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area (outlined in blue) and the Camas National Wildlife Refuge (outlined in red), creating a 21,195-acre habitat complex and wildlife corridor.

It was the intent of the sellers, who retired from ranching, to see the ranch protected for wildlife as well as the general public to enjoy outdoor pursuits, said Ryan Storm, Pheasants Forever's Regional Representative in Idaho. The 2,695-acre Marty Ranch lies directly between the Camas National Wildlife Refuge and the state-owned Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area. Connecting these properties effectively creates 21,195 contiguous acres of permanently protected habitat.

“We are indebted to the family's conservation foresight," Storm said, who worked with the family to make their dream a reality.  “Future generations will have the ability to enjoy this ranch and its wildlife thanks to their vision and this partnership effort.”

Horizon of the Marty Ranch.

The ranch connects grass-sagebrush uplands, meadows, lakeshore, wetlands, and open water that provide vital habitat for a variety regionally significant wildlife, such as elk, moose, pronghorn, pygmy rabbits, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, sage grouse, Gray Partridge, Burrowing Owl, raptors, reptiles, and amphibians. Protection of the ranch ensures these species are free to roam providing habitat connectivity and soil and water health in the region.

Pheasants Forever purchased the property through a collaborative effort between the private landowners, local and national Pheasants Forever chapters, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Efforts will continue to further enhance, restore and protect priority resources in the region, but for the time being, the land and the critters living upon it are protected.


Also in the Spring, 2013 issue of Conservation Roundup: