BLM acquires two East Idaho properties to protect wildlife habitat


Bureau of Land Management

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Idaho Falls District Office

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho—In alignment with the America the Beautiful initiative, which seeks to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and expand access to public lands and waters through voluntary conservation, the Bureau of Land Management recently partnered with The Conservation Fund to acquire more than 4,000 acres of big game winter range crucial to elk, mule deer, moose and other native species through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

The acquisitions include the 3,488-acre Blacktail Ranch, which is east of Idaho Falls, and 600 acres of private land along the South Fork of the Snake River located 23 miles northeast of Idaho Falls along the Heise Front. The Upper Snake Field Office received funding for future management of these acquisitions through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

The Blacktail Ranch acquisition, known locally as Ball Flats, represents BLM’s largest land purchase in eastern Idaho. It is particularly important because of its proximity to the Tex Creek Wilderness Management Area (WMA), a mosaic of public lands managed by BLM, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. These public lands collectively protect 36,000 acres of foothills habitat that provide crucial, irreplaceable winter range for roughly 4,000 elk, 3,000 mule deer, and several hundred moose. The Tex Creek WMA was established in the early 1970s to mitigate wildlife habitat losses associated with the construction of Ririe Dam.

“Acquiring parcels next to the Tex Creek WMA increases recreational opportunities for the public and helps protect important habitat for a host of native wildlife,” said BLM Idaho Falls District Manager Mary D’Aversa. “These amazing, well-stewarded properties highlight the natural resource values that contribute to the biological health of the South Fork corridor and encompass key big game winter range.”

The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit that supports the voluntary protection of public lands and waters, worked closely with the Ball family to acquire the property and transfer it to BLM. The acquisition will help maintain highly functional landscape-level wildlife habitat while providing recreation opportunities for the public.  

“I grew up working, hunting and fishing with my family and friends in the Ball Flats area, whether it was pulling rye out of the dry farms in the hot summer days or fishing the creek in the afternoon,” said former Ball Flats landowner Brian Ball. “Those experiences are very special to me, and I want to preserve as much of that as possible both for Idaho’s wildlife and its population. This acquisition will mean people can continue to enjoy the Idaho that I love so much for as long as possible.”

BLM acquired the 600-acre Spring Creek Acquisition, which is used by more than 3,500 wintering mule deer and other big game, from Brad Foster. This acquisition adds significant public land adjacent to the expansive cottonwood corridor along the Snake River and helps secure long-term conservation of fish and wildlife in this important landscape.  

The Land and Water Conservation Fund invests revenues from offshore oil and gas production to provide increased public access to and protection for federal public lands and waters — including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreation areas — and provides matching grants to state governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites. Agencies also partner with landowners to support voluntary conservation activities on private lands. Since its inception in 1965, the LWCF has provided $5.2 billion to support more than 45,000 conservation and recreation projects in every county in the country.

Learn more about lands acquired by the BLM through the Land and Water Conservation Fund by visiting BLM’s web map

Lands transferred to BLM through the Blacktail Ranch acquisition.  Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Lands transferred to BLM through the Blacktail Ranch acquisition. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.