Read about some of the projects we are accomplishing in Idaho.
The Sage Grouse Initiative:
Removing Junipers Benefits Wildlife and Range in Owyhee County
When Owyhee County rancher Chris Black walked into the Mountain Home Service Center last November, he seemed to have read my mind. He’d been high on my list to contact about planning a habitat project with the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), a highly targeted and science-based landscape approach to enhance and conserve rangelands for sage grouse. It works by helping ranchers improve and conserve their lands for wildlife and for livestock across 11 western states. Since the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the Initiative in 2010, more than 700 ranchers have enrolled and hundreds of partners have participated.
In 1999, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality found high nitrate concentrations in Ashton's drinking water. Since then, numerous groups have worked together to find solutions to reduce nitrogen leaching from agricultural land to address the water quality problem. One very successful project was put together by the Yellowstone Soil Conservation District.
Lava Lake Land and Livestock is the type of privately-owned ranch that plays a crucial role in providing wildlife habitat. Set in the Pioneer Mountains of central Idaho, the mixture of lava flows, foothills and high mountains offers abundant wildlife habitat to sage-grouse as well as pronghorn, elk, wolves, mountain lion, mountain goats, and more.
The Rexburg Bench Energy Project is helping Madison County producers save power and ground water using technology to deliver irrigation that more accurately matches crop needs. Twelve local producers cut their energy use by installing variable frequency drives on irrigation pumps in 2011, the first year of the three year project.
The Madison Soil and Water Conservation District partnered with Rocky Mountain Power and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to offer this project that helps farmers purchase these drives. Most of the funding comes through the NRCS Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). Rocky Mountain Power contributes in-kind services and funding for incentives.
When the Nez Perce Tribal foresters wanted to restore a portion of the forest near Sweetwater Creek, they got help from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help fund the project. Their aim was to increase the vigor of trees growing in the forest and create a forest that would not be devastated by diseases or wildfire. To do this they replaced the grand fir trees with a species mix that was prevalent 100 years ago - species that are less susceptible to disease and insect infestations.