Vital Ground Teams With The ALSAM Foundation to Protect Key Idaho Grizzly Habitat

Bismark Meadows in northern Idaho
Photo: Linda Lantzy
Since 2001, Vital Ground has completed five land acquisitions within Bismark Meadows, a wildlife haven protecting nearly 1,000 acres of lush habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife in northern Idaho.

New 455-acre Purchase Adds to Conservation Success at Bismark Meadows

November 19, 2018

Grizzly bears and other wildlife in northern Idaho will benefit from the protection of rare wetland habitat as The Vital Ground Foundation—anchored by support from The ALSAM Foundation—has completed a conservation acquisition of 455 acres near Priest Lake.

Known as Bismark Meadows, the acreage provides valuable spring range for the Selkirk Mountains’ recovering grizzly population, which typically numbers around 30 bears south of the Canadian border, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The low-lying Bismark Meadows complex sees some of the area’s first spring plant growth, an important food source for grizzlies emerging from winter dens. It also offers habitat to moose, wolverine, cutthroat trout and six different plant species designated as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Bismark Meadows is a resource-rich area that provides outsized benefits to fish, wildlife and plants,” says Ryan Lutey, Vital Ground executive director. “It’s a bit of a landscape anomaly where a combination of topographic and hydrologic features disrupt the regular pattern of the surrounding mountains. Kalispell and Reeder Creeks filter through the meadows, which help store water and protect the water quality of Priest Lake and the drainage downstream, and several far-ranging wildlife species meet important seasonal habitat needs at this location.”

Idaho Impact

Having already acquired and consolidated nearly 500 acres across four adjoining properties at Bismark Meadows, Vital Ground’s new conservation purchase hinged on support from The ALSAM Foundation, which generously contributed the bulk of the project cost. Other key contributors included the William H. Donner Foundation, Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation, and numerous individual donors.

The Bismark Meadows purchase adds to Vital Ground’s larger conservation footprint in northern Idaho. Working in the area since 2001, the organization has completed nine habitat acquisitions and six conservation easements, totaling 4,400 acres of protection within the state.

Connectivity vs. Development

Northern Idaho features prominently in Vital Ground’s guiding vision of a connected wild landscape extending from Yellowstone into Canada. The Selkirks help link vast Canadian wildlands with the Cabinet, Purcell and Bitterroot mountains of Idaho and Montana, representing a critical puzzle piece in conservationists’ goals for habitat connectivity across the region.

Simultaneously, northern Idaho is experiencing residential growth at a rate well above the national average. With the recreational hub of Priest Lake experiencing rapid development in recent years, conserving Bismark Meadows solidifies habitat security within the Selkirk Ecosystem, a crucial step toward reconnecting the area’s small grizzly population with other groups of bears.

Learn more about Vital Ground’s work in the Selkirks…

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