Letters From the West

Stanley rodeo grounds protected from development

The Rodeo Grounds Ranch, near Stanley, where Custer County used to hold its annual rodeo was protected by the purchase of an easement by the Trust for Public Lands.

The Rodeo Grounds Ranch, near Stanley, where Custer County used to hold its annual rodeo was protected by the purchase of an easement by the Trust for Public Lands.

The 157-acre Rodeo Grounds Ranch near Stanley has been protected from development by an easement purchased by the Trust for Public Lands.

The ranch, which once hosted the 4th of July Custer County Rodeo in the 1930s, was one of the largest unprotected properties in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The purchase of development rights means the land will never be subdivided or developed, which also will enhance community fire protection since there will not be new homes to protect.

The Trust for Public Land paid $3.27 million to buy the easement, which will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, allowing continued historic use and private ownership of the property, while conserving its scenic values and access by anglers to Valley Creek, which runs through the property.

“Our aim is to ensure that this beautiful area remains intact and open, a place where world-class outdoor recreation, traditional land use, and irreplaceable wildlife habitat co-exist for the benefit of all,” said Deb Love, northern Rockies director for The Trust for Public Land.

Paul Hill, president of the Sawtooth Society, said it partnered with The Trust for Public Land in the joint effort to preserve the ranch.

“The Rodeo Grounds Ranch is the most historically important and largest unprotected scenic property in the Stanley Basin, a vital piece of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area,” Hill said.

The money to buy the conservation easement came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Money for the fund comes from fees paid by oil and gas companies to drill offshore.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West