Idaho’s state motto “Esto perpetua” means “Let it be perpetual” and it is an enduring sentiment along the Priest River. Multiple agencies such as the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Idaho State endowment land, U.S. Forest Service, and Inland Northwest Land Trust have protected land in the watershed creating a critical habitat.
In 2013, INLC acquired the Rundquist conservation easement which contributes 297 acres of hydrology, wildlife, and vegetation along Priest River and is a 1/2 mile from the 120-acre Mack conservation easement protected in 2003. (Click here to learn more about the Mack project.)
Water is all around as Priest River flows and Sanborn Creek ripples. These two waterways are important to Idaho’s federally protected Bull trout because the trout are present in the river and use the creek as a spawning tributary. The Rundquist easement provides diverse cover, stable stream channels, and clean spawning and rearing gravel. Wetlands, unnamed and named streams, and springs are also noted on the property.
In Bonner County, other threatened species inhabiting the area include Woodland caribou, and grizzly bear. All are listed under Special Concern with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Contributing to the habitat protection efforts in the county, the Rundquist conservation easement is located approximately 23 miles south of the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Area and 21 miles south of the Woodland Caribou Recovery Area. It’s not just the wildlife and water, the land tells a story too. Timber and vegetation thrive due to the soil benefits from the glacial lakes through the ages. Vegetative communities are diverse and include riparian, wetland, seasonal creek, spring, meadow and upland. Stands with high numbers of shrubs, particularly Pacific yew and huckleberry, may provide significant moose, elk, and grizzly bear habitat.
As the land exchanges hands the story continues. John Rundquist donated his property to The Nature Conservancy to sell and use the proceeds as a donation to their Montana chapter. Before the property was sold, Susanna Danner, Director of Protection with the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, contacted the Land Trust about placing an easement with the property to protect the attributes the landowner appreciated. With the easement in place, Stimson Lumber Company will purchase the land as restricted by the conservation easement with an approved forest management plan observing the critical habitat. Stimson has experience working with conservation easements which includes 30,000 acres in Montana monitored by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and land at MacArthur Lake in Idaho.
“The Rundquist property is home to iconic species such as bull trout, elk and Calypso orchids,” commented Susanna Danner, Director of Protection with the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “These plants and animals depend on the region’s open and natural areas for survival; and working forest landowners depend on these open spaces for their livelihoods. The Nature Conservancy is working collaboratively to protect working timberlands across northern Idaho for the wildlife and people that depend on them. We are grateful to Inland Northwest Land Trust for their partnership and excellent stewardship of the Rundquist conservation easement along this important reach of the Priest River.”
John Rundquist’s generous gift and The Nature Conservancy’s conscientious actions will be honored by the Land Trust’s stewardship and monitoring of the land for perpetuity.