Latah Creek at the Bryant easement - photo by Ben Egbert
Bryant/Sayre easement protects 322 acres
Paul Bryant wasn’t looking to buy a lot of land. He just wanted maybe 5, maybe 10, or maybe 15 acres with a little topography and trees near Spokane and near his mother and brothers. A realtor showed him some land along Latah Creek that a doctor wanted to buy and subdivide. Would Paul be interested in one of those lots? Paul joked that if the doctor didn’t buy the land, he would take the whole thing. You guessed it – Paul Bryant is now the happy owner of 322 acres with a river running through it.
In December 2007, Paul Bryant and his wife, Caroline Sayre, permanently protected that land from subdivision by donating a conservation easement to Inland Northwest Land Trust. “It was never my intent to develop it,” says Paul. “I could have divided up the land, but the older I get the less interested I am in making deals and more interested in leaving things alone.”
“The Hangman Creek (Latah Creek) watershed doesn’t have a lot of places that are completely natural. (The stretch of Latah Creek running through the Bryant property) looks like it probably did 100 years ago,” says Walt Edelen of the Spokane County Conservation District. “Having 300 acres in easement is a great legacy. Over time places like this will be few and far between.”
Paul Bryant’s stretch of Latah Creek “is not incised or channelized,” says Doug Pineo, a Shorelands Specialist for the Washington Department of Ecology and also an INLT member. “It has an intact riparian corridor, beautiful basalt cliffs, and nice examples of dry ponderosa woodlands with bunch grasses and other native plants.”
Paul and Caroline allow West Valley Outdoor Learning Center to use their land as an outdoor classroom. One day in 2007, fifth graders were looking for animal signs for NatureMapping, searching for macro-invertebrates from the creek, and learning about invasive plants. Kara Bloch, INLT’s 2007 Stewardship Coordinator, helped students learn about land stewardship by removing noxious weeds.
The protected land includes scenic forest, grassland, and streams. Paul and Caroline have now assured that it will remain in its predominantly forested and open space condition forever. This will protect its riparian vegetation and wetlands, buffer Latah Creek from erosion and streamside degradation, and provide relatively natural habitat for plants and wildlife. The conservation easement precludes the development of 12-22 homes. The easement is designed to permit farming and grazing of existing fields and will allow timber harvesting to promote wildlife habitat and forest health and allow the construction of one additional house on the property.
INLT will monitor the land in perpetuity to ensure that its conservation values are protected. Annual visits will be made by INLT staff to guarantee that the terms of the easement are upheld. Paul Bryant and Caroline Sayre will retain ownership of their land and will continue to pay property taxes. The land is not open to the public.