These two news releases were sent out today.
On Tuesday February 29, 2000 Idaho Watersheds Project, a regional conservation organization headquartered in Hailey, Idaho, applied for 5,142 acres of expiring Utah school trust land grazing leases located in Rich County, Utah.
The applications were for three leases adjacent to Bear Lake near the Idaho border. One lease is for 702 acres within one mile of Garden City, Utah on the west side of Bear Lake. This lease includes one and a half miles of Garden City Canyon.
The second and third leases are located on over 4,300 acres on the east side of Bear Lake in Eden Canyon and Little Creek.
Pursuant to Utah Trust land Administrative rules, IWP is offering $2,500 in "bonus bids" over and above the normal well-below-market lease rates of $2.00 per cow and calf or five sheep per month. Current leaseholders have the opportunity to match IWP's "bonus bid" or lose their leases.
IWP President, Jon Marvel, stated: "Idaho Watersheds Project's applications for Utah grazing lease will bring more money to Utah's public schools, and if we are successful in holding the leases, we will also show that the condition of these lands will improve without livestock use of any kind."
IWP's goal in this effort is to demonstrate that public land ranchers will pay more than the sub-market rate they currently pay for these leases or they will lose them to higher paying conservation uses.
On Tuesday February 29, 2000 Idaho Watersheds Project, a regional conservation organization headquartered in Hailey, Idaho, applied for 5145 acres of expiring grazing leases on Wyoming school endowment lands in three western Wyoming counties: Uinta, Lincoln, and Teton.
The 640 acre lease in Uinta County is located on the outskirts of Evanston, Wyoming on Yellow Creek a tributary of the Bear River which flows through Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.
In Lincoln County, IWP has applied for about 2,000 acres located near the Fossil Beds National Monument west of Kemmerer, Wyoming, in the Twin Creek watershed, another tributary of the Bear River; and, also in Lincoln County, IWP has applied for 1855 acres in the Salt Creek watershed located 25 miles north of Cokeville, Wyoming an area that supports remnant populations of native Bonneville Cutthroat trout.
The final 640 acre application is in Teton County located about 8 miles south of Wilson, Wyoming on Butler Creek, a tributary of the Snake River.
For all of these expiring leases IWP has offered to pay $7.00 per Animal unit Month (AUM) which is twice the minimum lease charge currently paid by ranchers for grazing these leases. Under Wyoming law ranchers who already hold these leases and who reapply for them can continue to held them if they match IWP's offer otherwise they will lose their lease.
Under the Wyoming Constitution these school trust lands must be managed for the financial benefit of the public schools of Wyoming. With that in mind, it is the goal of Idaho Watersheds Project to show that the amount currently being charged for these leases is not a market return, that ranchers will pay more for them; and that riparian areas which have been degraded by mismanaged livestock use on these leases can be recovered with reductions or elimination of livestock use.