January 11, 2006

Ground Squirrel Efforts Demonstrate Recovery Partnerships

Crapo presents Spirit of Idaho Awards to Idaho landowners

Boise â?? The work of several Idaho citizens making an historic on-the-ground effort to save the Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel are being recognized by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo with his Spirit of Idaho Award. The squirrel, which has been designated as a candidate for future protection actions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), will benefit by voluntary agreements signed by private landowners in Adams, Gem, Payette, and Washington Counties.The landowner groups were honored during a reception today at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices in Boise. Joining Crapo and the Service in announcing the partnerships were Congressman C. L. â??Butchâ?? Otter and representatives of the Idaho Congressional Delegation, Idaho Fish and Game, the Governorâ??s Office of Species Conservation, Idahoâ??s colleges and universities performing research on the squirrel, Environmental Defense, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.â??The decision by these landowners to engage in voluntary conservation actions on their own land is exactly the kind of collaborative effort envisioned by many of us working to improve the relationship between ESA regulations and private property owners,â?? Crapo said. â??Scientists believe that eighty-five percent of the occupied squirrel sites are on private property so the cooperation of landowners is essential to preserving the species. The plans made by these landowners can be an example for many others.â?? Crapo has introduced legislation in the Senate that would encourage more landowner participation in species recovery.Six private landowner entities are now enrolled in a Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel Candidate Conservation Agreement. The groups receiving the Senatorâ??s Spirit of Idaho Awards included:Agnes Brailsford of A.L. Cattle, Incorporated; George Hixon, Joseph Hixon, and John Dyer of the Sand Hollow Partnership; James A. Little of Van Deusen Ranch, Incorporated; Charles Phillips and Lance Phillips; Richard Robertson of Robertson Kennels; and Soulen Livestock CompanyNearly 100,000 acres will be included in the recovery efforts by the landowner groups. Soulen Livestock entered into the original Idaho squirrel agreement in 2002.