Year: 2009
Acres: 57
Ecosystem: Selkirk
Location: ID – Bismark Meadows wetland area
Project Type: Acquisition

At the end of December 2009, Vital Ground acquired its third property in Bismark Meadows: an undeveloped, 57-acre parcel generously held by a conservation investor for the past eight years. The property was originally offered for sale in 2001, just as Vital Ground was formalizing its effort to protect portions of the 1,100-acre wet meadow complex, but before a conservation and fundraising plan was fully developed. Luckily, a conservation minded individual (who prefers to remain anonymous) stepped up to help protect the future of Selkirk grizzlies. Secured with only a handshake promise that Vital Ground would do its best to repurchase the property when funding became available, the investor held the land in good faith as a conservation investment.

Completed at a significant bargain-sale price to Vital Ground, the acquisition includes a quarter-mile of Reeder Creek and contains both open, wet-meadow habitat, which is favored by grizzlies in spring, and dense forest that is ideal for providing wildlife security. The property abuts other permanently protected lands, including one other Vital Ground holding, as well as national forest lands and property held under conservation easement in the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Program. In conjunction with the organization’s 2005 and 2008 acquisitions, this parcel brings approximately 165 acres of high-value seasonal grizzly habitat into Vital Ground ownership at Bismark Meadows.

Reeder Creek flows through a 57-acre parcel acquired at Bismark Meadows in North Idaho. Photo by Linda Lantzy.

Reeder Creek flows through a 57-acre parcel acquired at Bismark Meadows in North Idaho. Photo by Linda Lantzy.

The acquisition falls under Vital Ground’s Selkirk Grizzly Bear Habitat Conservation Initiative, which was designed to help bolster the struggling Selkirk grizzly population by collaborating with private landowners to secure conservation easements and acquire strategic habitat. Research indicates that only 50 to 60 grizzlies persist in the entire 2,200-square-mile Selkirk Mountain Ecosystem, which includes portions of northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, and southern British Columbia, and biologists have documented at least eight individual grizzlies foraging at Bismark Meadows in recent years.

We are enormously grateful to our conservation investor for so patiently protecting this property while we raised funds for its acquisition, and ultimately donating approximately 65% of the land’s value to Vital Ground. The project was partially funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation via the Northwest Wildlife Conservation Initiative, which was formed in response to a $7 million, three-year matching grant to The Nature Conservancy from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to protect critical lands in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Additional support for the acquisition was provided by the Richard K. and Shirley S. Hemingway Foundation, First Interstate Bank, First Interstate BancSystem Foundation, Doug and Lynne Seus, Victoria and Ray Wallick, Fran Spector and numerous other individuals.