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200731100 - Acquire Land to Protect Critical Habitat in the Upper Lochsa

Sponsor: Nez Perce Tribe DFRM Watershed Division

Budgets: FY07: $10,020,800 | FY08: $10,400 | FY09: $0

Short description: This proposal seeks to protect the critical habitat in the upper Lochsa by working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to acquire 40,640 acres of land at risk of development.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)

Comment:

The sponsors have clarified a number of issues related to this project. The parcels of land in question are interspersed with land managed by the US Forest Service, which answers an important question posed by the ISRP. The amount of land in question is large -- 40,000 acres -- and its purchase would provide 300,000 contiguous acres in the Upper Lochsa that would be under USFS management. Benefits to fish and wildlife were not estimated by the sponsor, but the sponsors argue that they could be substantial by, for example, substantively reducing sediment input into the stream and opening 20-30 miles of potential spawning area. At a broad level this purchase is justified in terms of consolidating management of the area under common conservation goals and should have benefits to fish and wildlife, given that it at the headwaters. Substantial benefits to fish downstream of the proposed area of land acquisition would be likely, however these benefits have not been estimated. The sponsors are to be commended for seeing this opportunity and acting immediately, albeit with incomplete information. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is a good partner for any future transactions; however, for a project of this scale, other partners may be needed as well and the ISRP urges the Tribe, Forest Service and RMEF to work together to form as broad an alliance as possible to acquire and manage these lands. Such an alliance might also influence USFS decision makers regarding a land exchange. There should be a process in place to acquire this habitat block for future conservation of this headwaters ecosystem as a whole and all of the species that would benefit. This opportunity may never come again. There are two major uncertainties associated with this project. First, the disposition of the land, now privately owned, is not clear. The owner has offered to exchange the land for USFS land elsewhere, but the sponsor does not think this action will occur. If the exchange does not occur, the owner will sell the land. If this is the case, the sponsor will attempt to buy the land and gift it to the USFS, or buy a conservation easement and then sell the land to a conservation buyer. At this point in time, it appears as though there is no certainty that the sponsor can obtain the land. Second, the land apparently will require major active restoration efforts. The sponsors state that there are 200 culverts and 400 miles of road that would require action at some time on the future. Qualification: The sponsors need to provide better biological justification for this project in terms of its potential benefits for fish and wildlife. The sponsors should employ principles of conservation biology in developing this justification. They also need to justify the cost of the land they propose to purchase. Where did the $10 million estimate come from?

Response loop edit

See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.

State/province recommendation: Fundable, but at a reduced level

Review group: Snake

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment: NPT Tier 2 -1