January 06, 2006

Ground Squirrel Recovery Efforts Bring Spirit of Idaho Awards

Crapo, USFWS, F & G, OSC honor Idahoans saving dwindling population

Boise â?? The work of several Idaho citizens making an historic on-the-ground effort to save the Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel will be recognized next week by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo with his Spirit of Idaho Award. Several federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Game, and the Governorâ??s Office of Species Conservation, will join Crapo Wednesday, January 11th, to honor Idaho landowners who have formed conservation agreements aimed at boosting numbers of the squirrel designated as a candidate for future protection actions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 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??Eighty-five percent of the squirrelâ??s current habitat is on private property so the cooperation of landowners is essential to preserving the species and the plans made by these landowners can be an example for many others.â??Six private landowner entities are now enrolled in a Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel Candidate Conservation Agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Game, and the Governorâ??s Office of Species Conservation. Approximately 52,000 acres will be included in the habitat recovery efforts by the landowner groups. Land in Adams, Gem, Payette, and Washington Counties has been identified in habitat recovery efforts, including 44,000 enrolled by Idahoans Joe Hinson and Margaret Soulen Hinson.A news conference and landowner appreciation reception is scheduled:Wednesday, January 11th10:30 a.m.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offices, Chief Joseph Room1387 S. Vinnell Way (off Overland Road)BoiseFurther details on the conservation plans and the names of landowners will be released at the event.