INLC’s newest project area is the 37,000-acre sweep of forested foothills linking Bayview, at the south end of Lake Pend Oreille, to Hayden Lake. These lands are wildlife corridors between the mountains and the prairies, and their streams replenish the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer. They provide timber and other forest products, and scenic beauty for passersby. The mix of public and private lands have an abundance of recreation. Over the next ten years, INLC will reach out to every private landowner, provide information about conserving working farms and forests, and help willing landowners conserve their properties through conservation easements or other means.
INLC uses computers and common sense, and community interest, to decide where to work. The Bayview to Hayden project area has high conservation values---things like stream corridors, diverse forests, and relatively large land holdings. INLC has a track record of conservation in this area, with four conservation easements including Kirk and Madeline David’s Cedar Mountain Forest. And it provides scenic beauty for some 20,000 passersby on Highway 95 on an average July day, and over 4,000 on Highway 54.
Many area residents have teamed up to keep northern Kootenai County’s rural lifestyle, through the Cedar Mountain Association. INLC will be working in tandem with members of the Cedar Mountain Association, the Idaho Forest Owners Association, and other conservation-minded groups to identify important lands, and connect with interested landowners.
Keeping land as healthy, productive farms and forests will benefit society in many ways. Resource lands support local economies, from sawmills to feed stores. The forests shelter streams that provide clean water to the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer that 500,000 people rely on. These “ecological services” also include the value of storing carbon and generating oxygen---the benefits that nature provides to humans. Well-managed forests also serve as a buffer against wildfire.