Eleanor Hildebrandt | August 31, 2021
The Western Watersheds Project outbid a rancher to purchase a grazing lease in central Idaho in its effort to end all public-land grazing.
The group bid over $8,000 for 620 acres of land. The project will also pay an additional annual fee of $800 for the number of sheep and cattle that are authorized to be on the land. The lease is for 20 years and the land is situated in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley, according to the Associated Press. This might not be the only grazing lease that goes to environmental groups instead of ranchers. The Idaho Cattle Association said it’s possible that more leases will be sought after by groups like the Western Watersheds Project.
The new owners of the land plan to convert the grazing lease into a conservation lease, which will allow the environmental group to invest in wildlife on the 620 acres. The grazing lease joins more than 1,100 managed by the Idaho Department of Lands, covering thousands of square miles of land in the state.
Erik Molvar, the executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, said the purchase was an expensive way to achieve the group’s goals of conserving land in Idaho. He called the Sawtooth Valley “one of the crown jewels of Idaho” that is valuable and an area rich with diverse wildlife.