IDAHO FALLS, ID: The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with The Conservation Fund and the Halpin family, has permanently protected 315 acres within Caribou-Targhee National Forest with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – America’s premier conservation program.
Located approximately two miles west of Palisades Reservoir, near Alpine, Wyoming, the land, known as the McCoy Creek property, is completely surrounded by national forest land. It had been previously approved for the development of 11 homes and was the centerpiece of a controversial land exchange proposal. The Forest Service’s purchase will keep homes away from areas prone to wildfires and, as a result, minimizes the costs to taxpayers for fighting forest fires and eases the burden on the community’s emergency services.
“This particular private inholding has been a high priority for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to acquire,” stated Tracy Hollingshead, District Ranger, Palisades Ranger District. “This acquisition will provide additional recreational opportunities for the public and reduce the potential for future conflicts,”
The LWCF funding was approved by Congress with the support of the Idaho delegation and allowed the Forest Service, with assistance from The Conservation Fund, to acquire the land from Savit Associates represented by the Halpin family in Jackson, Wyoming, who was seeking a permanent conservation solution for their family land. LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties – not taxpayer dollars – to acquire critical lands and protect our best natural resources.
“Preservation is the best option for this property,” said Luke Lynch, Wyoming State Director for The Conservation Fund. “It helps to keep communities safer from the risk of wildfires and, with its significant recreational and wildlife values, it’s a critical addition to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.”
Lynch added, “We’re grateful to all of our partners for their cooperation and to the Idaho congressional delegation for their foresight and their support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which gives us the opportunity to protect important natural areas like these before they are lost forever.”
The McCoy Creek property is also essential for maintaining access to the area’s popular recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing and snowmobiling. Containing 25 acres of wetlands, as well as McCoy and Jensen Creeks, the inholding lies within the watershed of the South Fork Snake River and is a critical location for Yellowstone cutthroat trout restoration activities. It also provides vital wildlife connectivity within the Greater Yellowstone Area, the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states.
“Our family is leaving a legacy for future generations,” said Mike Halpin, the landowner. “The Conservation Fund has given us the opportunity to fulfill that legacy, and we are proud to see the property become part of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest for the public to enjoy.”