Idaho forestland saved for jobs and recreation

Clagstone Meadows, a well-known expanse of timber in Bonner County just off US Highway 95 between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, has been permanently protected under the terms of a conservation easement as a job-producing working forest with substantial public access for back-country recreation, The Trust for Public Land announced today.

The land will continue to be owned and managed by the Stimson Lumber Company, a family-owned business that is one of the oldest continuously operating integrated wood products companies in the United States. Stimson has managed timber in Idaho for several decades, giving local families well-paying jobs and keeping timber mills in production – both crucial to the local economy.

At 14,432 acres, the land is Stimson’s largest contiguous holding in Bonner County. In 2010, a development plan on the Clagstone Meadows property, which included plans for two golf courses and 1,200 homes, was conditionally approved. Midway through the process, Stimson reconsidered its options and began working with The Trust for Public Land and state agencies to craft a conservation easement that encourages sustainable forest management and opens over 10,100 acres to the public. Working towards protecting the property and ensuring a long-term working forest was more in line with their core business values than going the development route.

Ray Jones, Senior Resource Advisor of Stimson Lumber Company, said, “We are very pleased that Stimson has been able to complete a conservation easement on the Clagstone Meadows property. Managing its rich timberlands in perpetuity provides jobs and mill product, and enables the public to enjoy much of this special property. Not having to go the development route is much more in-line with the long-term goals of Stimson Lumber Company and our shareholders.” 

“We are delighted with this balance of active management and conservation,” said Chris Deming, Senior Project Manager at The Trust for Public Land. “With Stimson’s help, we crafted a solution that keeps this land productive and opens more than ten thousand acres to hiking and hunting—supporting a vibrant and growing tourism economy and the quality of life cherished by northern Idaho residents.”

“This kind of private-public collaboration is the key to 21st century land conservation in Idaho,” said Karen Sjoquist, Forest Legacy Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Lands. “Joining forces with Forest Legacy to protect working lands that support local economies is best practice in our book.”

Clagstone’s forests, fields, wetlands, and ponds sit directly above an important drinking water aquifer and provide significant wildlife habitat.

The easement will be managed by the Idaho Department of Lands and Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Gregg Servheen IDFG’s Wildlife Program Coordinator explains, “Our task will be to steward the land’s irreplaceable natural resources and oversee public access to the land for year-round outdoor recreation at the heart of local life, like hunting, hiking, and cross-country skiing.”

The Trust for Public Land raised $9.5 million to purchase the easement, including a substantial private donation and federal funding from the Forest Legacy Program and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. Forest Legacy funds originate from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on public land.  Pittman-Robertson funds are raised through the sale of firearms and ammunition, and then distributed to the states for wildlife conservation. 

In conjunction with Stimson’s land conservation effort, they sold the conservation easement at significantly less than full market value – a conservation donation that will forever benefit the people of Idaho.   

Stimson Lumber Company is one of the oldest privately held forest products companies in the US; with holdings in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The Idaho Department of Lands administers Idaho’s Forest Legacy Program through the Forestry Assistance Bureau. To date, this program has successfully conserved nearly 91,000 acres of privately owned working forestland. In addition, IDL manages more than 2.4 million acres of Idaho endowment lands, for the benefit of endowments, primarily public schools.

The U.S. Forest Service administers Forest Legacy at the national level and provides grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to states to protect environmentally and economically important forests.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.