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January 24, 2012

New Land Trust Takes Over 455-acre Conservation Easement on Bear River

Andree' here. Though you all might enjoy this press release! Read on...

JOINT NEWS RELEASE – For Release morning of January 19, 2012

New Land Trust Takes Over 455-acre Conservation Easement on Bear River

LOGAN, Utah, January 11, 2012 — Bridgerland Audubon Society and the Bear River Land Conservancy have reached agreement to transfer a Conservation Easement on 455 acres of Bear River bottomlands near Trenton, Utah to the Conservancy. The lands are owned by PacifiCorp. The Conservancy plans to continue to improve the property’s habitat values and begin immediately working with PacifiCorp to establish conservation easements on other, similar lands along the Bear River.

Richard Mueller, Conservation chair for the Bridgerland Audubon Society, said “The Society invested thousands of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars to establish the easement, but we really needed to find it a more permanent home with a land trust that is designed to hold and steward these projects in perpetuity. The Bear River Land Conservancy provides the perfect home for the easement and greatly increases the potential for critical land protection in the future.”

Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, acquired these lands in 1981 as part of a settlement agreement following unusually high spring runoff in the late 1970s. The property is part of the Bear River Bottoms, an extensive area of riparian and wetland habitat along the Bear River in Cache County.

“The Bear River Land Conservancy was established in 2011 to conserve and enhance private lands for wildlife habitat, working farms and ranches, land and trails of recreational or historical significance, watersheds, and critical vistas, using conservation easements and sound management, to benefit the people of northern Utah, today and in perpetuity. We are currently working on several easement and acquisition projects, but we are pleased to accept this assignment of part of the Bear River Bottoms as our first official success.” said Dave Rayfield, projects director for the Conservancy.

The Conservancy depends on partnerships with other organizations, including hunters, farmers and ranchers, environmental groups, municipalities, and individual residents.

“One of our key objectives is to continue working with private landowners, especially our agricultural neighbors,” Laraine Swenson, another Conservancy Board member said. “Many of the critical lands in northern Utah – habitats, agriculture lands, and open spaces – are located in the valley floors and are privately owned. Many of the landowners of these properties want to see their properties continue to provide important benefits for the public, but they need a mechanism to help them accomplish these protections. That’s exactly what we’re designed to do – protection here and forever.”

Some of the major partners so far have included The Nature Conservancy in Utah, a chapter of the national organization, which has provided invaluable expertise and significant start-up funding for the local Conservancy. “We think these local land trusts are absolutely key to addressing local conservation needs and fulfilling stewardship responsibilities that address community needs,” said Dave Livermore, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy of Utah.

Other important partners have included the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jon Hardman, NRCS District Conservationist, said “We need a qualified private-sector partner with the capabilities to work with private landowners. Protecting lands in-perpetuity is a huge commitment and the land trust needs to be very technically capable. The Bear River Land Conservancy is certainly getting off on the right foot.”

Karl Fleming, manager of the Partner’s Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, said “We supported Bridgerland Audubon Society’s efforts because they help to ensure habitat protections for the entire region. This is a big step forward in a concerted effort to enhance the entire Bear River watershed.”

Dean Brockbank, vice-president and general counsel for PacifiCorp Energy approved the assignment. “As a public utility, our company explicitly includes environmental protection as part of our mission and we recognize that the Bear River Bottoms are a natural treasure,” Brockbank said. “We are limited in what we can do for lands that aren’t directly part of our hydroelectric projects. We think working with a qualified land trust is exactly the right approach.”

The Bear River Land Conservancy is encouraging interested residents to join as members of the fledgling organization. They believe there is much to do and all hands are welcome.

About Bear River Land Conservancy
The Bear River Land Conservancy is one of 1,500 qualified land trusts in the United States. It is located in and serves Box Elder, Cache, and Rich Counties in northern Utah. BRLC is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity and a member of the national Land Trust Alliance. They focus on protecting private lands that offer public benefits, and they employ a wide range of tools including conservation easements, fee purchase, and management consulting. They ensure successful stewardship though endowments to help maintain conservation values in perpetuity. They also work with private landowners to develop innovative, economical, and adaptive management practices to improve those conservation values. BRLC members are diverse - sportsmen and women, environmentalists, farmers and ranchers, scientists, real estate interests, public agencies, students, and everyday citizens. Information is available from www.BearRiverLandConservancy.org, or by emailing BRLC@BearRiverLandConservancy.org.

About Bridgerland Audubon Society
Bridgerland Audubon Society (BAS) is a local and independent chapter associated with the National Audubon Society and is a member of the Utah Audubon Council. BAS welcomes all to its educational meetings, field trips and conservation projects. BAS participates with Logan City in development of the Logan Mitigation Ponds west of the current landfill and also operates a 146-acre wildlife sanctuary along Clay Slough west of Amalga. The property for the sanctuary was purchased from PacifiCorp. Organized as a public charity under IRS 501(c)(3), BAS meets quarterly September through May. Information is available fromwww.bridgerlandaudubon.org.

About Rocky Mountain Power
Based in Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Power is one of the lowest-cost electric utilities in the United States, providing safe and reliable service to more than 1 million customers in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. The company works to meet growing energy demand while protecting and enhancing the environment. As part of PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power serve some 1.7 million customers in seven Western states. The company has more than 10,600 megawatts of generation from coal, hydro, natural gas-fueled combustion turbines, and renewable wind and geothermal power.

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 135 million acres worldwide. In Utah, the Conservancy has helped to protect nearly 900,000 acres, and has long supported the protection of critical lands and waters in Cache County. Visit www.nature.org/utah.

For information, contact:
Bear River Land Conservancy: Dave Rayfield, (435) 757-9120
Bridgerland Audubon Society: Richard Mueller, 435-752-5637
Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp: David Eskelsen 801-220-2447
The Nature Conservancy: Joan Degiorgio, 801-238-2327
Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Logan office: Jon Hardman, 435-753-5616
USFWS Partner’s Program: Karl Fleming, 435-734-6434

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