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Each year hundreds of wild Chinook salmon and steelhead swim nearly 1,000 miles up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers to the Pahsimeroi River in central Idaho to spawn in the clear waters of Big Springs Creek. Previously, irrigation diversions and intensive grazing prevented spawning in some of the most promising parts of the Pahsimeroi system. After purchasing the 1,395 acre Big Springs Creek Ranch, the owners removed barriers, reduced grazing, restored creeks and allowed substantially more water to remain instream. Spawning activity has increased from none to 60 spawning beds over the past several years. Now, Big Springs Ranch plays a critical role in the survival of these incredible ocean-going fish, making the ranch one of the most important wildlife properties in the region.
Two-thirds of the ranch encompasses riparian bottomland with many springs, several spring creeks including Big Springs Creek and over a half-mile of the Pahsimeroi River. The bottomland areas are mostly sub-irrigated and highly productive, supporting robust populations of waterfowl and big game, including elk, whitetail deer, and mule deer. The upland portions of the ranch encompass 160 acres of irrigated pasture and cropland and offer a great combination of agricultural productivity and upland bird habitat.
A conservation easement on the ranch ensures that critical riparian habitat will be preserved for generations to come while offering the flexibility to pursue agricultural and residential activities. With the essential restoration complete, Big Springs Creek Ranch is ready for a new owner to write the next chapter of this important stewardship story.
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