STANLEY • The 157-acre Rodeo Grounds Ranch, which hosted the 4th of July Custer County Rodeo in the 1930s, is now permanently protected by The Trust for Public Land, which said it purchased development rights.
The property, five miles north of Stanley, was one of the largest unprotected properties remaining in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the nonprofit trust said.
The purchase ensures the Rodeo Grounds Ranch land won’t be subdivided or developed, the trust said, calling that a benefit for fire protection. The easement purchase was accomplished in partnership with the Sawtooth Society, a local nonprofit dedicated to the SNRA.
The Trust for Public Land said it paid $3.27 million to place a conservation easement on the land, which will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the SNRA. The easement allows continued historical use and private ownership of the property while conserving its scenic values and its recreational access for 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 coexist for the benefit of all,” said Deb Love, The Trust for Public Land Northern Rockies director, in a statement.
Funding to purchase 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.
Nora Rasure, regional forester for the Forest Service, said in the trust’s statement: “The ranch, with its stunning views of the entire Sawtooth Range, was extremely vulnerable to subdivision and development. Now this threat has been removed, protecting the visual quality and the important landscape of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.”
The Trust for Public Land said it has completed eight projects in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, from a one-acre parcel in Stanley to the 1,800-acre Piva Ranch.