In his essay “Thinking Like A Mountain,” Aldo Leopold tells the story of a time when he worked for the Forest Service in Arizona. He and his crew spotted several wolves by a river and took aim on the pack.
After the shooting, Leopold recalls reaching an old female wolf “in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.”
“I realized then,” Leopold wrote, “and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and the mountain.” In the spirit of Leopold’s revelation and essay, Western Watersheds Project’s Greenfire Preserve is being restored to its native state on the East Fork of the Salmon River.
Many WWP members aren’t familiar with our activities at Greenfire, and some not even with its origins, so I think it’s appropriate to start from the beginning.
In June 2000, a conservationist and friend of WWP purchased a 440-acre former ranch along the East Fork, and a management agreement was reached with WWP, then Idaho Watersheds Project. As WWP’s Central Idaho director, I assumed the duties of preserve manager and moved to the property on September 1.
Initially, WWP directors and administrators drew up four short-term and several long-term objectives. The first priority was removing livestock from the property. We also wanted to coax a smooth transfer (to the new property owner, Valley Sun L.L.C.) of water rights and Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service grazing permits attached to the property.
Another short-term objective was to meet with various agencies to build relationships with potential partners who might help us with our restoration efforts.
Long-term objectives include restoring Greenfire to a self-sustaining preserve of native habitat and retiring three U.S. Forest Service and three BLM grazing permits attached to the property. We also want to create an education center where people can learn about properly functioning native habitat, and where universities and their students can use the property for seminars and research projects. Finally, we want to be able to make Greenfire available for conferences and visits by the media.