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BOISE — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission in May approved three land deals that will expand two wildlife management areas near Boise and Idaho Falls and provide habitat for numerous species, as well as provide additional land for hunting.

During its quarterly meeting in Grangeville, commissioners approved the purchase of a total 1,552 acres of land about 20 miles east of Idaho Falls that will be added to the Tex Creek Wildlife Area. The two properties consist of relatively natural habitat of sagebrush, riparian areas, forested slopes and aspen stands.

Habitat found on the properties provides benefits to numerous game and non-game species. Elk, mule deer and moose all use the property. In the late fall, numerous elk transition through the property to winter habitats, and some elk winter on the properties. Aspen stands also provide quality fawning habitat for mule deer.

The purchase price for the two properties is $1.96 million, and will be paid for using Bonneville Power Administration mitigation funds. Through a settlement deal between the state and the energy company, Fish and Game will receive federal mitigation funding for impacts to fish and wildlife associated with the Columbia River Power System.

Mitigation funding is used to purchase property from willing sellers, which is then managed by Fish and Game to protect and rehabilitate habitat for the benefit of fish and wildlife and provide public access.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a 232-acre parcel of native grass and shrub communities about 10 miles northeast of Boise, adjacent to the Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

The area provides habitat for elk and mule deer which are found in the area year round. This parcel connects higher-elevation forest habitat and lower-elevation shrub-steppe habitat in the Warm Springs watershed, and the property is important in helping maintain the migration of mule deer to and from the management area’s winter range habitats.

The cost of the property is $350,000, which will be paid using $287,800 in federal Pittman Robertson funds and the sale of Fish and Game property to the Forest Service. The remaining $62,200 in funds will come from money derived from the sale of Idaho hunting and fishing licenses.

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