The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved three land deals in May. The deals will expand two wildlife management areas near Boise and Idaho Falls, as well as provide habitat for numerous species. The deals will also provide additional land for hunting.
During the quarterly meeting in Grangeville, commissioners approved the purchase of a total of 1,552 acres of land about 20 miles east of Idaho Falls, which will be added to the Tex Creek Wildlife Area. The two properties have a relatively natural habitat of sagebrush, riparian areas, forested slopes and aspen stands.
Habitat found on the properties benefits numerous game and non-game species. Elk, mule deer and moose all use the property. In late fall, elk transition through the property to winter habitats, and some elk also winter on the properties. Aspen stands also provide quality fawning habitat for mule deer.
The purchase price for the two properties is $1.96 million and will be paid for using Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) mitigation funds. Through a settlement deal between the state and BPA, Fish and Game receives federal mitigation funding for impacts to fish and wildlife associated with the Columbia River Power System.
Mitigation funding purchases property from willing sellers, which is then managed by Fish and Game to protect and rehabilitate habitat for the benefit of fish and wildlife. It also provides public access.
Commissioners also approved the purchase of a 232 acre section of native grass and shrub communities about 10 miles northeast of Boise, next to the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
The area provides habitat for elk and mule deer, but both species are found in the area year round. The land connects higher elevation forest habitat and lower elevation shrub-steppe habitat in the Warm Springs watershed. The property is important in helping maintain the migration of mule deer to and from the WMA's winter range habitats.
The cost of the property is $350,000, which will be paid using $287,800 in federal Pittman Robertson funds and the sale of Fish and Game property to the Forest Service. The remaining $62,200 in funds will come from money derived from the sale of Idaho hunting and fishing licenses.