By CITIZEN STAFF
The proposed Bear River Watershed Conservation Area could be a boon for farmers and ranchers while also serving to protect natural habitat in to the future.
That’s part of the message that nearly five-dozen Franklin county residents and government officials heard during a recent information meeting held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Fire District building in Preston.
A “comprehensive view of protecting this watershed” that involves land in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming has been worked on for five years by Bob Barrett, manager of the Bear River Refuge west of Brigham City, Utah.
In its 500 miles, the Bear River passes through three national wildlife refuges, Bear River in Utah, Bear Lake in Idaho and Cokeville Meadows in Wyoming.
“We recognize the importance of the Bear River Watershed,” said Tracy Casselman, project leader for the two Southeastern Idaho refuges. He said the work by Fish and Wildlife followed an analysis by the Nature Conservancy of threats to watershed and where building may or may not occur.
“Based on that the Fish and Wildlife Service drafted a proposal to work with willing ranchers and farmers, to get permission for conservation area to cover the watershed. We developed a draft plan and environmental assessment,” Casselman said from his office in Pocatello.
“What we’re really asking for is permission to establish this conservation area, permission to purchase up to 920,000 acres of easements from willing sellers; to buy development rights off of individual property,” he said.
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