Is Now an Opportune Time to Purchase Land?

Predicting return on investment when purchasing land can be hard to nail down. While no one can truly predict what the ROI of an investment will be, looking to industry indicators is a good start when choosing where to place your hard earned money. The good news is that there are resources available to those in the market for land real estate. In addition to finding a qualified land consultant, looking to industry surveys and reports can provide the guidance needed to purchase a property.

Every year, the REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS® release a Land Market Survey to help buyers and sellers of land make the most informed decisions possible. With responses from land real estate professionals across the country, its results are indicative of which overall land real estate market trends to pay attention to when making investment decisions. A large percentage of the participants are Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs), the most esteemed, experienced, and well-educated brokers/agents in the industry, lending further credibility to the survey results.

Now, let’s dig into why now is an opportune time to purchase land real estate. According to this year’s survey results released on February 14, 2017, the industry’s top land professionals predict an average growth in sales volume of two percent across all land types through October 2017, with a three percent growth expected in each sector for timber, residential, and agricultural greenfield development land. As far as prices of land, an increase is also seen across all sectors defined in the survey. The highest predicted sales volume increases are attributed to timberland and residential land at a rate of three percent, closely followed by agricultural land at two percent and commercial land at one percent.

Yes, these are all predictions. However, when compared with actual transaction data from respondents, the trends fall in line with past sales data. As reported in the survey, overall prices of land across all sectors averaged a one percent increase, with the highest price increases in timberland at five percent and residential land at three percent. Another important take away is that the average time on the market for a piece of land was reported as one-hundred days, selling more quickly for agricultural non-irrigated, timberland, and recreational properties.


Brandon Rogillio, ALC, 2017 REALTORS® Land Institute National President, stated, “We are seeing a lot of very positive things happening in the land market. Like any industry, the different sectors will fluctuate up and down but seeing an overall two percent growth in transactions across all types of land real estate is a good signal. The increase in recreational and residential land sales is an especially encouraging sign of our economy’s strength over the last couple years with an increased demand for housing sales and ‘luxury’ activities like hunting. The growth in timberland also vouches for this as much of the timberland purchased will be used for either recreational purposes or timber for residential housing—it really all ties together nicely into one bigger picture. Predictions for continued growth through 2017 are encouraging for those looking to invest in land or sell it, as well as, for the real estate professionals involved in the transactions.”

The annual Land Markets Survey is a tool for real estate land professionals and those looking to buy or sell land in all sectors of the business to use for bench-marking and as an informational resource when conducting business. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the survey has been conducted to reveal current trends and the ever-changing state of land markets within the industry. The REALTORS® Land Institute has made the full survey available for free online at

So is now an opportune time to purchase land real estate? Contact your local land consultant to see what opportunities are available.



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Inside the Agrihood Trend

Developers are bringing the farm closer to consumers’ tables in urban, rural, and suburban spaces.

Has foodie culture finally gone mainstream? According to The Urban Land Institute’s “America in 2015” survey, 73 percent of Americans highly prioritize access to fresh, healthy foods. That preference may also appear on clients’ house-hunting checklists: Thirty-seven percent of REALTORS® say their buyers want access to local food, and another 6 percent say clients seek community gardens near their new homes, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Sustainability Report.

Though ULI defines “agrihoods” narrowly—“master planned or residential communities built with a working farm as a focus”—residential areas organized around consumers’ desires for fresh, local food are popping up all over the country. And real estate pros working in a variety of markets in urban, rural, and suburban locations are finding success in this growing niche.

A Tree Grows in Oakland

Urban developments that incorporate agriculture may help residents mitigate common stressors of city living. “Townhome and condo complexes can be really concrete and not very green at all,” says Sandi Giannini, a real estate salesperson with HD Properties in Oakland, Calif. While most of her clients can’t afford a pastoral home at California’s high real estate prices, Giannini says they still prize greenery and fresh food. “People like the idea of a country setting but are living in an urban environment because of work.”

That’s why Giannini loves showing off the repurposed warehouse space of the Pacific Cannery Lofts in West Oakland. The development features a raised-bed community garden of 30 plots shared with Ironhorse, an affordable rental community next door. Giannini says the garden space is a major selling point in her tour and marketing materials.

Not all residents want to cultivate food themselves, but the green atmosphere is widely appealing. Many of Giannini’s clients work long hours in the tech industry and appreciate living in a complex where tomato plants and lemon trees offer fruits to residents. “They’re not looking to become full-time farmers,” says Lara Hermanson, principal at Farmscape, the company that installed and maintains the organic gardens between Ironhorse and Pacific Cannery Lofts, among hundreds more across the region. Though Farmscape’s annual contracts are negotiable, Hermanson says few communities decide to take over the work of tending to the edible landscaping completely. “In most cases, I’m the farmer in perpetuity.”

Deep Farming Roots in the Midwest

While it may not be surprising that urban farming has taken off in the Bay Area, Hermanson points to the country’s breadbasket as a vital source of the agrihood trend. “It’s a California way of doing this for sure, but the original one is the one in Illinois,” Hermanson says, referring to the development known as Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.

The community of 357 homes, which was built more than 20 years ago, celebrates its connection to both wilderness and farming. Scot Lara, a real estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Libertyville, Ill., has lived in Prairie Crossing for more than a decade. He and his wife were initially drawn to the community’s nature trails more than the 100-acre organic farm at the center of the development. “We didn’t really understand what it was all about; we just loved the way it looked,” Lara says. But after they signed the paperwork on their Prairie Crossing home, coworkers warned him they were going to turn into “tree huggers,” insinuating the development was “like a cult.”

Now that he’s a real estate professional, Lara confronts these misconceptions about Prairie Crossing often. Though the area is subject to a host of environmental and land-use rules, he explains that the restrictions help keep vistas open and trails clean. “The kind of rules that are in place are the kind of rules you want in place,” he says. “That’s what allows a place to remain the way you liked it when you first moved in.”

Lara can demystify the development’s restrictions for interested buyers, but he’d rather talk about the atmosphere. He describes Prairie Crossing as a “special” place where kids “travel in packs together,” and it might take him hours to mow the lawn because neighbors keep stopping by to chat or offer a cold beer. “There’s a sense of community that would be very hard to find in your everyday neighborhood,” he says. He has sold 10 homes in the development in the last year and says his ability to sort facts from hearsay nets him referrals from neighbors: “They say, ‘He understands what we have and what makes this a unique community, and he can convey that to other people.’”

An Oasis in the Suburban Desert

The area around the 452-home Agritopia development in Gilbert, Ariz., is vastly different from both West Oakland and Prairie Crossing. It has two Walmarts, a major freeway, and a large mall filled with big-box stores, all less than three miles from the community. Though it’s now a Phoenix suburb, Gilbert was largely agricultural up until recently. After seeing many of his contemporaries sell off their farms to developers in the 1990s, farmer Jim Johnston worked with his family, builders, and developers to create a new kind of community for the area.

When construction began around 2001, the whole development—from the roof pitches and porches of the Craftsman-style houses to the low vinyl fences and narrow streets connecting them—looked foreign to Colby Myers, half of the husband-wife team at Treehouse Realty in Gilbert, Ariz. “The homes were completely different than we had ever seen,” he says. “It just has a beauty you don’t find in Arizona.”

Myers says the feel of the place and the amenities—including a working farm, community garden plots, pool, and volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts—do a lot of his sales work for him. “Agritopia has a ‘Pleasantville’ feeling. You automatically feel safe and welcome, which creates a sense of home,” he says. “As real estate professionals, we show a lot of houses in an effort to find our clients a home. From the moment you drive into Agritopia, those houses become homes.”

That makes for stiff competition. Myers says he and his wife, Michele, are involved in only one or two Agritopia transactions a year. It’s hard to score listings in the tightly knit community because the homes are often “spoken for” before they officially go on the market.

Paying the Grocery Bill

As the agrihood trend expands, it’s becoming clear many consumers are willing to pay a premium for neighborhood access to fresh food. While these developments vary widely in how they actually distribute food to residents—from farmers’ markets to community-supported agriculture arrangements to more typical grocery store interactions—the funding of the farm is sometimes a separate charge, and often via a homeowners association. Myers says the majority of homes in Gilbert are in HOAs, but Agritopia’s fees skew significantly higher. He estimates Agritopia’s homeowners pay more than twice as much as those living in traditional developments nearby. But he adds that the demand for homes within the community makes it clear many feel it’s worth the price.

Lara says Prairie Crossing raised its quarterly fees in January for the first time in nine years, from $270 to $295. The rates are competitive with other developments in the area, he adds, especially considering all the educational programs and environmental initiatives funded through the HOA fees. Lara says the board’s focus on financial stability and long-term investment is reflected in the $1 million they keep in reserves. “The bottom line is they are all here for the same reason we are,” Lara says. “It shows you how much they care about maintaining it.”

The cost equation is more opaque in rentals. The Urban Land Institute found that Farmscape’s growing areas cost no more to maintain than traditional landscaping, yet residents pay an average of $7 more per month in rent to live in multifamily buildings that include the company’s gardens. However, Hermanson notes that the cost calculation could be different outside of California. “In the Midwest, people aren’t as used to paying for amenities as we are,” she says, comparing Farmscape to drop-off laundry services. “In Chicago, it still sounds ridiculous to not wash your own undies.”

Depending on size and complexity, developers may pay between $35,000 and $1 million for a Farmscape creation. Maintenance costs are charged weekly—between 25 cents and 65 cents per square foot for the vegetable garden and $2 for each fruit tree—and include replanting and amending the soil. Hermanson says the economics of agrihoods can work in any development with a few smart trade-offs. “Replace the pool or the gym that no one uses, that aren’t really creating the sense of place that an urban farm would,” she suggests. Additionally, developers who include access to healthy food in economically disadvantaged communities may be eligible for grants from the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, according to ULI.

Giannini predicts it won’t be long before the whole industry sees edible landscaping as a true amenity: “There are some real estate pros who don’t look at it yet as a feature, but they’re going to be pleasantly surprised by how much more interest people are going to have in this.”

By Meg White

Source: RealtorMag


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How to Find Hunting Land

Hunting, always a popular sport, is seeing new advocates as the number of female hunters rises.

According to one source, this number has climbed by 80 percent since the early 2000s. The reasons are as varied as the women who hunt, but part of the impetus is the recent (2007-2009) recession, and part is a desire to connect with the sources of food.

Add to that the empowering sensibility that women hunters get from literally “bringing home the bacon”, and it’s no surprise to see hunters in ponytails wearing Prois hunting jackets and carrying “designer” shotguns.

That aside, hunting is still a male-dominated (81 percent) sport, and the biggest problem male (and female) hunters have isn’t getting the right hunting gear or licenses, but finding land on which to hunt.

The world is crowded and getting more so every year. Finding open acreage on which to track and shoot that deer, bear, elk, or wild turkey is getting difficult. In many states east of the Mississippi and South of U.S. Route 40 (i.e., Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia, for example), up to 95 percent of the land is privately owned. Here are some ways to simplify the search:

Contact a hunting lease association, like the American Hunting Lease Association. The fees can be steep, but the hunting is excellent.

Contact your state’s department of natural resources, or DNR. For example, the Minnesota DNR has created a new online tool for identifying public hunting and recreational land. Many states also have permit-only hunts for a fee and during a certain period of time.

In Colorado, Alaska, and Kentucky, to name but a few, there are draw hunts. These cost, but the hunting is excellent and the amount may be refunded if you purchased an annual game-specific (i.e., deer, fish, etc.) license the previous year, for example.

Check out federal reserves and refuges, i.e., the National Wildlife Refuge System, via the Federal Register.

Search your local newspaper for classified ads, under “land for sale or lease”. The best places to look are small, hometown or county-specific newspapers that publish both in paper and online. Don’t shy away from private land sales. Landowners have a dedicated interest in reducing the amount of grazing damage deer can cause.

Use social media for more than selfies. Express your interest in private land hunting on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, even Instagram. There are people out there in virtual space who own land and may not object to it being hunted.

Set up a Google alert for private land for hunting – for a fee (or ideally for free, or for a portion of the game you shoot). Texas and Louisiana both have programs that connect hunters with private land that is open to hunting. Farther west and north, Montana has a private land/public hunting program, and Wyoming has a Hunter/Landowner Assistance Program, which offers tens of thousands of acres for hunting and fishing.

Check the bulletin board at work, at church, the local sporting goods store, or at your gym. Also check the local grocery store or tavern. Better yet, make up a card asking for help locating hunting land and use your e-mail or phone number, whichever seems best and safest.

If you belong to an organization (Elks, Shriners, Masons, or Knights of Columbus), ask the people you know best, or simply bring up the subject of hunting. What else are brotherhoods for?

Talk to your neighbors, or ask your relatives. Join a hunting association and get to know fellow hunters. Do not, as one source suggests, go door-to-door, or ask at your child’s school. The first could be dangerous, and the second could send entirely the wrong message to teachers and administrative staff.

by Jeanne Roberts



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In the Wake of California Flooding, FEMA Updates Flood Insurance Plans

Given the ongoing situation in California, where six consecutive dry years – and a history of drought – have culminated in unprecedented flooding from the Oroville Dam in the north to Los Angeles in the south, it’s fortunate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, just updated its flood insurance plan, which covers homes, or places of residence, and property.

The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate (OFIA) is an integral part of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. The OFIA’s purpose is to educate policyholders and property owners on such issues as buying flood insurance, filing flood claims, and appealing a negative decision on flood insurance reimbursement.

Obviously, the first step in buying flood insurance is determining whether it is necessary. The flood map service center allows landowners and homeowners to visualize their property on an interactive map which shows the flood risks.

Suffice to say, the maps are difficult to read: it’s the government, after all. However, you can also call your city, municipality, or county to find out if your community participates in the NFIP; if your property is in a flood risk area; and how that risk is rated. You might even get a discount on your house’s flood insurance if your community’s participation and status ranks high in the Community Rating System. Or you can make an end run around FEMA maps and check out Floodtools.

You can also call the insurance agent who handles your household insurance, or fill out the Flood Risk Profile to guesstimate how much flood insurance will cost. You can also Google it. In most of St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, the average cost for residential flood insurance is $300 a year (for $100,000 in coverage, which is the limit). In the western suburbs of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where new FEMA mapping has reduced the risk, it is more like $500, and for areas which still fall clearly within the floodplain, it can cost up to $5,000 a year.

The coverage for structures and contents must be purchased separately, and the contents of a basement are never covered. Both contents and dwelling have a deductible, so it can get pricey. Plus, there is a 30-day waiting period for the policy to become effective, so you can’t buy flood insurance after the fact.

But if that seems like a lot, consider this: a Federal Disaster Loan can cost $300 a month for 20 years!

Filing a claim is pretty much like any other insured loss. You will need to contact your insurance agent first, and make a list of the damaged items, the approximate date of purchase, and the estimated dollar value of each item – but be reasonable, because the claims adjuster wasn’t born yesterday. You should also provide receipts if you have them.

Taking photos of the damage is an excellent way to document losses, and with digital cameras the documentation can all be done electronically!  You will also need to file a Proof of Loss form within 60 days, or you may get nothing. The insurance adjuster can help you with this. Proof of Loss is separate from an insurance claim, and substantiates it.

No matter what someone tells you, you don’t need to wait for President Trump to declare your flood a disaster, and your policy can’t be cancelled for turning in a claim. In addition, registering for FEMA assistance provides you access to a number of emergency services like money to rent someplace to live, include a FEMA-approved group of hotels whether you voluntarily leave your home or are evacuated – as was the case with the Oroville Dam spillway failure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises flood victims to register for disaster assistance online, or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 (FEMA)

You can also get money for necessary expenses like medical or dental problems, funeral expenses, and personal property reimbursements for clothing, medications, and essential toiletries.  The agency will also provide funds for transportation, moving and storage of items that have survived flooding, and other expenses that are authorized by law.

Where flooding and subsequent evacuation has separated family members, FEMA’s National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System, or NEFRLS, can help reunite them. The NEFRLS program is automatically activated after the President declares a national disaster. Register online at, or call 1-800-588-9822, 24-hours a day once a disaster is declared.

by Jeanne Roberts



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Thinking of Going Off-Grid? Here’s How to Pick the Best Property

Secluded, sustainable, self-sufficient: going off-grid’s been the ultimate American dream since the days of Thoreau. But these days, getting away from it all is obviously a bit trickier than just packing up and moving to a cabin in the woods. Unlike in Walden, you’re probably going to want some basic amenities, such as electricity. But it’s hardly impossible, especially with land that’s good for solar production. Here’s what to look for when you start shopping around.

Seek Out Land with a Flat Clearing

Tree coverage is often a death sentence for solar panels. Heavily-shaded areas just can’t compare to the production of sunnier spots; if you live out in the woods, some installers may even tell you solar just isn’t worth it. But tree removal and ground clearing for heavily forested areas can run up to $6,000 per acre, which is an expense you don’t really need if you’re already putting down thousands of dollars on a down payment and solar energy system. If you can, opt for a property that already has a clearing available to you.

You’ll also need to decide how you’ll mount your system, which can come into play regarding the land you choose. A solar calculator or professional installer can help you better understand the best size system for your household needs, but usually your average-sized five-kilowatt panels won’t be able to support the demand from a typical home. You should definitely consider high performance features, like energy-efficient heating and cooling and tight building envelopes, but you’ll still probably need to purchase a solar panel setup that runs on the larger side.

In fact, if you manage to find land that is flat and even, you can potentially opt for a ballasted ground mount system, which will allow you to install multiple panels to create your own miniature solar farm. That lets you position the panels in the optimal direction,rather than relying on the orientation of your roof. For instance, south-facing panels typically demonstrate the best energy performance—but aesthetically, that might not be the best direction for your home. Land that’s amenable to ground-mount panels gives you options.

Avoid Areas with Restrictive Property Covenants and Zoning Regulations

Homeowners associations mean well—their rules are largely meant to maintain safety and bring up property values in the area. However, locations with stringent covenants, conditions and restrictions—affectionately known to realtors as CC&Rs—could put a damper on your dreams of your own self-sufficient paradise.

Notably, counties with restrictive zoning regulations may penalize homeowners for erecting certain structures, like barns, dugouts, and straw-bale houses. Homeowners associations might be even more strict, preventing you from building gardens, raising livestock, or even installing solar (more on that below). You’re entitled to see all CC&Rs after you make an offer on a property, and you can withdraw your offer without penalty (or forfeiting fees) if you don’t like what you see.

Review Your State and Local Laws for Solar Easements

Likewise, homeowners associations can potentially prevent local residents from erecting solar panels on their property. However, to protect solar residents and encourage the growth of the solar industry, many states and local governments enforce solar easement laws, which restrict HOAs from prohibiting solar.

The best way to check your area for solar easements is to make your way to, the website for the Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Here, you can search through a long list of incentives and legislation for solar, state-by-state.

Check State Legislation in the Area You Want to Buy

State attitudes towards off-grid properties vary vastly by location. In some parts of Florida, for instance, residents are required to hook up to the grid—the state lets local utilities decide whether or not homeowners can go off-grid.

Before you buy, try to get a general feel for your state’s thinking in regards to renewable energy. Many states, particularly those in coal-heavy areas, have recently witnessed battles between utilities and solar advocates over the extent to which state governments can legislate solar. That’s a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so it’s a smart idea to look somewhere with a track record of pro-solar legislation.

That may seem like a lot to digest, but it will definitely be worth it when you’re living free and clear on your own off-grid utopia. It’s just like Thoreau said, “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams… he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Written by Erin Vaughan

Modernize, Buying Land

Source: Lands of America

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ADVERSE POSSESSION – Zuckerberg Drops Hawaiian Kuleana Land Case, Offers Apology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of 700 acres of land in Hawaii, is finding out the hard way that land ownership can be an uncertain thing at best.

In 2014, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, bought two adjacent tracts of land – a 393-acre Pila’a Beach tract, and a 357-acre former sugarcane farm called Kahu’aina Plantation. It would have been an ideal getaway for one of the world’s richest men, if not for the fact that the plantation contains as many as 24 tiny plots of land that Zuckerberg hasn’t been able to buy, and whose owners are free to cross his land at any time they choose.

These tiny parcels, known as “kuleanas”, are by law (and historically) the property of families who have passed ownership down through the decades. Kuleana rights include “reasonable access, agricultural uses, gathering rights, rights to a single-family dwelling, water rights, and fishing rights”.  In Hawaiian, kuleana means “right, privilege, or responsibility”.   Some of the kuleanas contain huts, and are used as weekend or vacation getaway spots.  All are protected under a 2012 Hawaiian Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the original decision laid out 160 years ago vis à vis tenant farming rights.

Zuckerberg, who filed eight lawsuits known as “quiet title and partition” actions to obtain the parcels, has since dropped his litigation efforts and apologized. Reports indicate he hopes to negotiate a solution with the individuals and communities involved. Given the uncertain nature of land titles in Hawaii, this may be the best resolution, especially as some kuleana owners don’t even know the boundaries of their land. The situation is sadly reminiscent of Native American tribes in the 19th century.

The kuleana holders are not squatters in any sense of the word, and Zuckerberg is far from the first to face this dilemma. In fact, land taken by squatters, sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and the homeless – a process known as “adverse possession” – has plagued many a buyer who thought he, or she, had finally purchased the home and/or acreage of his or her dreams.

Moreover, land law and land rights may actually recognize the ownership of squatters and the homeless after a certain amount of time has passed. In California, for example, someone who takes over an abandoned building, or sets up farming on an open plot of land, can obtain a document of ownership for said property after five continuous years of occupation.

In Pennsylvania, a couple who lost track of one of their land purchases actually forfeited most of it to someone who lived next to it and used it consecutively, for 21 years. Each state views adverse possession somewhat differently, and some mandate that the trespasser pay the local property taxes for a certain number of years in order to claim the property.

Historically, the law tended to differentiate sharecroppers and tenant farmers by noting that the latter usually had their own farming tools – a distinction that has not clarified adverse possession status. A tenant farmer using a verbal agreement can farm the land for a number of years without sharing the profits of his labor and then demand adverse possession status. A piece of property that is purchased and then ignored can pass to a sharecropper who faithfully shares the profits of his labor and then asks the court for title to the land.

According to one global land policy institute, the rights to land are commonly related to the amount of labor invested “as an extension of the right to the fruit of such labour”.

The bottom line is simple. Property owners should either inspect their lands regularly or hire someone to do so, and every granting of right or easement should be accompanied by legal documentation of the exact rights given – or taken.

Source: LandHub

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All About Conservation Easements: How to Protect Ranch Estates for Future Generations

Few resources on this planet today are more important than the land itself. As populations and commercial businesses continue to grow, protecting large property ranch estates is important for the conservation of U.S. water, wildlife, and wilderness spaces. That’s one reason why conservation easements were first established hundreds of years ago and continue to be effective today. Learn more about how conservation easements work and their benefits for governments and landowners alike.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary donation or sale of private property to a government agency that allows the resources of the land to receive federal protection from further developments. The public benefits of the land — such as water access, wildlife habitation, farm and ranch property rights, outdoor recreation uses, etc. — are safeguarded against future subdivisions or developments for as long as the property remains privately owned.

What are the benefits of conservation easements for landowners?

Conservation easements give private property owners a generous estate tax incentive, which allows land to be passed from generation to generation fully intact. Sometimes, the prohibitive cost of estate taxes can cause parts of ranch estates to be subdivided and sold off — but with an easement, property heirs can exclude up to 40% or $500,000 worth of land from their tax claims.

What does the government get in return?

Every conservation easement is created on terms and agreements specific to the land itself. For example, a ranch with land bordering a national or state park can serve as a “buffer” zone for the migrating wildlife that roams the area. A lakefront property, on the other hand, might benefit from an easement that allows for water preservation or fishing tourism.

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The Economics of the Most Successful Large Western Ranches

Finally owning your own large property may feel like a dream come true, but once the sale closes, your work has only just begun. The most successful large western ranches are run on sound economic principles and a profitable production schedule that uses every available acre. We’ve compiled some of the best pieces of advice for turning your ranch real estate into a place that you can comfortably call work and home.
1. Manage your herd by acre and worker.
The amount of acreage for sale isn’t the only factor that will influence how many head of cattle you might be able to manage on your ranch. You also     need to consider how many workers or hired hands you can afford to help with tending to the herd. Most mid- to large western ranches typically             budget one worker for every 800 to 1,000 cows.
2. Make your property multi-use.
Depending on where you live and the type of land you have available, you might be able to allocate some parts of your ranch as seasonal private hunting land, which can help generate additional revenue with very little overhead. American hunters average 21 days dedicated to the sport every year, for a combined total of 282 million days annually. Many are willing to pay top dollar for managed land with good prospects for deer, elk, fowl, or other game.

3. Build a community.
Ranching is often perceived as a solitary kind of lifestyle, but it’s essential to establish a network among other ranchers, especially your neighbors.         The ranching community is often a tight-knit community built on trust and helping each other out when times get hard. Experienced veterans are         always ready to offer kernels of wisdom to newcomers.

Ranching life may not always be easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. There are few things more gratifying than living off the land and   appreciating it for what it’s worth. To keep your dreams afloat, be sure to make your land as usable and profitable as possible while still preserving its beauty. For more information on how to find the ranch property of your dreams, contact us at Sports Afield Trophy Properties to work with a knowledgeable land broker today.


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The Easiest Ways to Protect Your Land from Rural Crime

Rural property crime is an ever-increasing problem. That can be a depressing thought for people who have moved to the country, eager to avoid the problems of city life – including crime.

But regardless of whether you own a single-family home in the country, are searching for farms for sale in the United States, undeveloped land for sale, or any type of country property, landowners can be victimized by crimes ranging from burglaries to equipment theft to livestock theft to illegal dumping.

Here are a few security suggestions for rural property owners:

Report every crime to local law enforcement, no matter how petty. Don’t think you’re just “being a bother.” Those reports allow law enforcement to spot a developing crime trend and then appropriately plan to combat it, often “nipping the problem in the bud” before the crimes become even more bothersome and costly to your neighbors and you.

Security setups don’t have to be costly or obvious. Solar-powered, motion sensor security lights can be purchased for as little as $20 and require no electricity usage or hookup, allowing them to be deployed anywhere. Most are extremely sturdy and last for years in all types of weather conditions.

Fuel Tank Security. Basic common sense is your best friend as fuel theft is one of the most frequent rural crimes. Remember that what is most convenient for you is also most convenient for criminals, so, if possible, place the fuel tank in an out-of-the-way spot, far from any roads. If you live on the property, place the tank in a place where you can see it from your home but it’s not easily viewed from a roadway. And while a determined thief can cut through most any lock, purchase expensive padlocks for your tank and fences. Don’t use a $2 padlock to protect $1,000 worth of fuel.

Contractor Diligence: Be careful of whom you hire to do work on your property. We’re not talking about paranoia here, but keep in mind that even if you have the utmost confidence in a particular company or contractor, you’ll want to make sure that they are equally dedicated to employing only high-quality, reputable people themselves. This is especially true if you are budget-conscious and know that the contractor offers low wages to workers. Once you allow access to your land, it’s all too easy for people to survey what you have and how to get it.

Illegal dumping. The illegal dump site can be both dangerous and very expensive to clean up, and features old tires, household trash, medical waste, automobile and other vehicles, hazardous chemicals, and even the remains of clandestine drug laboratories. One of the best ways to combat this dilemma is to securely mark your property boundaries. Illegal dumpers are searching for a quick and convenient spot to dump their junk, hopefully with easy access from the road. Be sure to block access points and roads to your property that are no longer used and give the dumpers no spot where they can easily pull in and offload their trash. Keep your fences and gates in good repair and locked, otherwise you could face a cleanup that’s a huge hassle and a big expense.

As you search for land to buy or farms for sale in the U.S. or any type of rural property to purchase, we know you can find the land of your dreams here on At that point, just a bit of work and a few dollars can help you keep it safe from those who’d like to rip off your stuff and poke a hole in your pleasant day in the country.

by Mark Bingaman

Additional Tips: Rural Crime Prevention: Livestock Theft, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Ranch and Farm Theft on the Rise: Utah State University Extension


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How To Begin Birding

Like birds, but don’t know how to make the leap to becoming a birder? Here are three easy steps to get you into the field.

By Nicholas Lund 

I’m biased, but in my opinion, birding is the Greatest Pursuit Available to a Citizen of the Modern World. It’s basically a lifelong scavenger hunt played across the entire earth. It’s equal parts science and poetry, hoots of triumph and quiet reflection, adventures to far-flung corners of the world and discoveries in your own back yard.

Your life is going to be better with birds in it. If you’ve always loved birds but never known how to actually make the leap, here’s how to begin.

  1. Get Excited — and Read Up

So, there’s no rush. While aching knees or backs will eventually force your peers to hang up their skis or mountain bikes, birders can bird for as long as they can walk, roll, or look out a window (I’m genuinely excited to impress my peers at whatever nursing home I eventually get put into). Take a moment to learn about what you’re getting into.

Start by getting your hands on a field guide. Any book will do as long as it has pictures of each bird and maps of their range. Keep this book in a place where you’ll be able to leisurely flip through it for a couple minutes each day—the bathroom works as well as your nightstand. What are the different kinds of birds? Where do they live, and in what seasons? Don’t worry at this point about how to identify anything, just focus on figuring out what’s out there.

To supplement your field guide examination, learn some things about avian biology and the sport of birding. Watch all of the BBC’s Life of Birds series, hosted by your new hero David Attenborough.  Learn about why birds are birds, and how they’ve evolved into such incredible creatures. Read The Big Year by Mark Obmascik (unsurprisingly, the book’s better than the movie), and learn about the extreme end of this hobby—not as something to emulate (yet) but as a point of reference. Excited yet? Good, let’s go to step two.

2. Gear Up

A great thing about birding is how little equipment you need to actually do it. To get started, you really just need something to hold to the eye to make those far-away little birdies a bit bigger. In the beginning, you don’t need to worry about what kind of binoculars you’re using. All you’ve got is a pair of hulking, 14-pound black plastic behemoths from your mom’s house? Use them. Little opera glasses that you hold to your face with a stick? They’ll work. One of those extending telescopes that fit in your pocket? Get ready to run through the woods like some sort of bird-watching pirate. If they make far away things seem a little less far away, use them for now.

And that’s it!  Some form of binoculars and that field guide you bought earlier are plenty to get started.  As you get better, you may want to invest in a nice camera or a spotting scope (for the really far-off birds), but they’re by no means required.

3. Get Out There

The time has come to actually get outside. The first experience is important; if you’re overwhelmed, or you don’t quite “get” what you’re supposed to be doing, you may not return for a second chance. So start with a plan.

Here’s what I recommend: pick a bird and go find it. Use that field guide you bought and pick a bird you’ve never seen before—one that you’re reasonably sure lives nearby at that time of year—and go find it.  There are a lots of resources you can use to determine what birds have been seen nearby, like the “explore data” section of eBird or postings on your local birding listserv. Then just go out into the actual world and start looking until you find it.

Believe me, the accomplishment you’ll feel when your chosen bird is all of a sudden flapping or paddling or sitting in front of you, no longer a flat image in the book but a living creature—that feeling is what this is all about. You’ll recapture it with every new species you find.

And that’s it, you’re a birder! There are a lot of ways to proceed from here—finding buddies to bird with; chasing your first rarity; taking your first trip out of state—but all those will come naturally once you’ve gotten started.

Congratulations on your new hobby—I’ll see you in the field.




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10 Points to Consider Before Buying Recreational Property

1. Location

It is said over and over. There are three things you need to know about buying real estate; 1) location, 2) location, and 3) location! But what does that mean? In urban areas, this can mean safe neighborhoods, traffic flows, proximity to shopping malls, school quality, night life attractions, and proximity to jobs or natural features such as the ocean or a mountain range. Recreational real estate includes many of the same factors but also includes the right mix of land types on the farm, plenty of timber and open fields, quality of roads, access to your property, productivity of the area soil types, utility access, such as water and electricity, as well as satellite internet and television access.

The type of property you purchase will have a large effect on the size of down payment as well as how much you have to subsidize.

Look around the neighborhood. When you buy rural property, you are buying a part of a rural community, drive around the property you are interested in and see what the neighborhood looks like. Do the neighbors show pride of ownership? Much like a home in the city, good fences make good neighbors. Also, the stronger the rural neighborhood, the better chance you have for real estate appreciation and less chance for devaluation. You may want to meet some of the neighbors to find out if they practice deer management on their farm or if they “rent out” hunting rights that could impair your enjoyment of your farm. When you look around the neighborhood, see if any of the neighbor’s operations produce any annoyances that could distract wildlife from entering your farm.

2. Plan Ahead

It is important to be very realistic when looking for a piece of land. In 2013, the agricultural real estate market reached new highs. While these prices are expected to come down with lower commodity prices, it is not expected very quickly. This price escalation requires one of two events to occur, 1) additional capital, or down payment be made to allow the property to be self sufficient from its own cash flow, or 2) additional subsidizing from outside income.

The type of property you purchase will have a large effect on the size of down payment as well as how much you have to subsidize. More productive land offers more income potential so it requires less off-farm income. The more “recreational” the property, the more you will have to invest or subsidize. Unless you have been pre-approved by a lender, always, always have language included in the contract that indicates the purchase is subject to financing.

Recreational land may qualify for several government programs. These programs cover timber management, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to find out what programs the farm is currently enrolled in and what programs may be available to you if you purchase the farm. You can find your local FSA office at It is important to know if the farm is producing any revenue when meeting with your lender.

When researching a piece of property for recreational use consider the timber. Is it suitable for your needs? Brush may need to be cleared while hardwood may have economic value. Food plots are often a part of owning recreational property. The land must be suitable for a food plot if one is not present but there must also be adequate access to water. Locate any ponds, streams or springs on the property and determine their proximity to the food plot.

3. Determine the Size of Property

If you are a cash buyer, you can simply look at property with a price tag that compares with the amount you want to invest. If you need to finance a portion of the purchase price, it is vital that you meet with a professional in the rural lending world. Your current banker may be a great source for loaning money on your home in town, business, car or boat. But what does he or she know about rural property? A lender that understands rural property, cash flows for this industry, the cycles and current real estate values can be a great value to you now and for many years down the road.

They can also be a source of financing for items needed after the land investment. Before you sign a contract, a good rural lender will ask you some very tough questions that will help you decide what size farm you can afford and what you can expect after the purchase.

4. Working with a Realtor

Unless you hire a buyer’s agent, the realtor is getting paid by the seller and is working for them. However, they bring a lot of information and will only get paid if the sale occurs. Realtors work in this industry 24/7 and can offer a vast amount of information to help you. They will set up the closing and help both the buyer and seller meet the demands of the written contract. Real estate closings can be very complex. Realtors will be able to explain a lot of the procedures and work out who will be responsible for certain expenses of the transaction. This will include closing fees, document preparation, accruing real estate tax liabilities and recording fees.

5. Items Included with the Sale

It is extremely important that everybody, realtor, buyer, seller and anyone else involved in the sale, understands in writing what is included in the transaction. A detailed list of anything you feel you are buying needs to be a part of the contract. The list may include:

Gates & feeders

Livestock panels

Portable sheds

Fence posts

Treatment or removal of any existing farm or hunting leases

Any miscellaneous equipment

Anything that can be moved

6. Steps to Purchase Property

Each situation is different. However, as a starting point, you can expect a closing to occur about 30 days after you and the seller sign the contract. Overall, the process goes something like this:

  1. Determine the type of property you are looking for and general location.
  2. Review properties available by using the internet, local newspaper, or visiting with area realtors.
  3. Make an offer on the property and negotiate with the seller until an agreed-to price is reached. You may wish to speak with your attorney before signing a real estate purchase contract. After signing the contract, you will place earnest money on the farm to hold it until you can close.
  4. Take your contract along with financial information to a local rural lender. This may include past tax returns, current pay stubs and a list of all assets and liabilities. They will work with you to make sure the property is within your financial capabilities. Meeting with a credible lender prior to even looking for a property can save you a lot of time and effort by narrowing down the price range you can pursue.
  5. Upon loan approval, the lender will work with you to get the property appraised and alert you of any title issues prior to loan closing. Have an attorney review any information you do not understand or if you just want additional peace of mind.
  6. Prior to the closing, you will receive a copy of the closing statement that will let you know the amount of money you will need the day of closing. Normally these funds have to be certified which means a cashier’s check.
  7. If you are borrowing part of the purchase price, you will close your loan with the lender prior to the real estate closing. Then you will meet at the title company office to close the transfer. They will file the necessary deeds at the courthouse and forward them to you after the recording is complete. You will need to take a copy of the deed to the local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office so they can transfer any program payments to your name such as CRP or base acre payments. Your lender can explain these to you. You will also want to make sure the county collector gets a copy so the next year’s real estate tax bill will be sent to you for payment.
  8. After the closing, you will need to drive straight to the property and determine which project to tackle starting tomorrow morning!

7. Title Insurance

When you buy a car, the first thing you do is buy insurance before you leave the lot. Why? To protect you in case of an accident. Title insurance does the same thing only in terms of ownership. It ensures your ownership of the farm in the amount that you paid for it as long as all of the items listed as exceptions are corrected. This may include transferring ownership by legal deed, or the seller having a deed of trust removed. The closing agent will review any items that need to be discussed at closing. Normally, you will receive a copy of the title insurance commitment days before the closing. If you have any questions, ask an attorney to review the policy. Purchasing a title policy is the most secure way to buy property today. Title insurance will also warn you if the property has been the site of an identified hazardous waste dump site.

8. Local Resources to Know

The farther away your property is located from your home, the more important it will be to develop your own personal network of contacts for that area. A simple list, and one that you will probably add to as you spend more time enjoying your new property, should include:

  1. Local Rural Lender – They know the area as well as programs that may benefit you and your property. They have names of people that provide services such as a dozer operator, custom farming service and farm managers, if needed. They are also very in tune with the local market and can give you some indication of what land is bringing in a specific area. This could save you thousands of dollars.
  2. County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office – The FSA office administers all government programs that could have a very positive affect on your farm’s cash flow. They also administer programs to help you with conservation issues including pond construction, erosion control and wildlife enhancement.
  3. Neighbors – One of the first things you need to do is stop by and meet each of your adjoining land owners and the nearest homesteads. They may end up being the person that pulls your stuck vehicle out of the ditch on a rainy day or loaning you that trusty wrench.
  4. Local Farm Input Supplier – This may be the local MFA Elevator or a privately owned company. These “farm stores” will carry about everything you need from corn seed to fence tighteners. They are a great source of information for questions surrounding agricultural production.
  5. Mechanic – At some point, something is going to breakdown. This may be a tractor or your own vehicle. Having a relationship with someone local before that happens can give you a sense of security when it does.

9. Costs of Ownership

There are very few instances that allow you to buy property and then stop right there. You may have to run electricity and rural water to your property. Then there are the normal operating costs such as insurance, gravel for your entryway, and monthly utility bills. After normal operating costs, the investments needed after the purchase will depend largely on the type of property you purchase and what your reasons were for buying. The more involved you are with your property, the more additional investments you may need to make. These items may include a mower, ATV or UTV and a storage shed. Or, it may include livestock purchases for pasture. Even recreational property usually ends up with a small tractor and mower, or a four-wheeler and trailer. These are just the larger ticket items.


Then you will get into smaller items that can still add up. These may include a chainsaw, air pumps and an additional set of tools to leave on-site. Of course once you buy all of this equipment, you will need to build a shed to store everything. And after that you may decide to build a water structure or pond to fish in or just to have a quiet picnic when you go “out to the country”. Before long you will start thinking about a small cabin or maybe even a second home. Someone once said the cheapest part of owning rural property is the initial purchase!

10. Property Boundaries

Nothing is worse than finding out you didn’t get what you paid for. Unless you want to have a survey completed, no one will ensure the number of acres you are buying; they will ensure a legal description. Normally the description will be written in either a rectangular survey or meets and bounds method. It is usually a good idea to go to the county assessor’s office and have them pull the “card” for the property you are looking to buy and see how many acres are being taxed. This doesn’t mean their figure is right, but it should compare fairly close to what you have been told by the owner or realtor. If there is a big discrepancy, you will want to complete some additional investigation. Also, if you are obtaining a loan on the property you are buying, the lender will normally complete an appraisal as well as examine the title policy to ensure they have the right amount of security for their loan and to ensure they have a legal claim based upon the deed of trust filing.

BONUS – 11. Zoning

Zoning is something fairly new to the rural area and should be investigated before you buy rural property. You will need to go to, or call, the county courthouse where the property is located. They will be able to tell you if the county has been zoned and, if so, what the zoning requirements include. If you are going through a realtor, they should also be able to help you.


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Mount Bonneville | The Place to Ski

Mount Bonneville, the highest mountain in the Portneuf Range, was formed as the range uplifted. The western slopes were left with steep grades while the eastern slopes rolled more gently towards Pebble Creek. In 1937, the U.S. Forest compiled a report classifying the eastern slopes of Mount Bonneville as superior for downhill skiing. Popular local folklore says that Averell Harriman had Mount Bonneville considered as a site for his Sun Valley, but found the road access to the east slopes too difficult. However, skiing on Mount Bonneville was destined to be.

Some young Pocatello dare devils longed to schuss down powdery snow-covered hills on their wooden slats equipped with bear claw bindings. Skiing near Pocatello was born in 1947 when these men formed the Alpette Ski Club. They pooled their resources and purchased a portable New Sweden Rope Tow, installing it in “Ski Bowl” near the present day Forest Service amphitheater on Scout Mountain.

In 1949, ski pioneer Paul Hill installed another rope tow down the road at Lead Draw. Paul then moved his operation to the west slopes of Mount Bonneville just south of Inkom, creating Skyline Ski Area. Skyline boasted two rope tows and a small warming hut. The joy of the challenge of early skiing fueled an increase in the number of people enjoying the sport. Other ski pioneers Chester Allen and brothers Robert and Joseph Primbs, Jr. saw the need to found a unit of the National Ski Patrol to assist the skiing public at Skyline. That same ski patrol is still serving skiers today.

Early skiing was for the hearty. The first challenge was driving up to the mountain on an unimproved road. Then, grabbing onto the rope tow for the ride up the hill gave the skiers’ body a jolt. The rope was so heavy that smaller people would grab on just behind a stronger person who had the strength to hold the rope up. The schuss down was on ungroomed slopes.

In 1957 the ski area was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Francis Ranstrom of Pocatello. Skiers excitedly welcomed a new Poma lift installed in 1958 and another in 1960. The Poma lifts were a great improvement over the rope tows, but still the ride was “almost as challenging going up as it was skiing down.” Most of the trails were about half as wide as they are today and grooming was done by foot and ski packing.

The Ranstrom’s installed the Minor Denver double chair lift in 1966. New terrain was opened, much of it being steep. Grooming was all still by ski packing and shovels, so the moguls grew and grew. A popular skiing style was “jack rabbit”, jumping from one mound to another. Skiers would proudly boast, “If you can ski Skyline, you can ski any where.”

The old day lodge has been described as having very little room and very little heat. A few snacks, candy bars and pop were available. Comfort for skiers increased in 1968 when the current lodge was built. It was spacious, warm and had a food service area.

The Ranstrom’s continued to operate the ski area until 1978 when they sold the majority stock to the R. J. Bowen Corporation. The area changed hands again the following year having been purchased by the Pebble Creek Land Company. The long talked about dream of expanding skiing to the east slopes of Mount Bonneville was a focus of the new owners. A Master Plan was submitted to the U.S. Forest Service and the name of the ski area was changed to Pebble Creek. The CTEC triple chair was added in 1980, current runs were widened and new runs were added.

In 1981 the area again changed hands being purchased by Pebble Creek Ski Area, Ltd., a group of local investors. While still keeping the dream of going “up and over”, the partnership began the difficult task of taming some of the west slopes focusing on the needs of the intermediate and beginning skiers. First, state of the art grooming equipment was added. In 1984 a large, gentle beginner area serviced by the Aspen double chair made learning to ski easy at Pebble Creek. “Summer grooming” was begun with a focus on clipping brush, removing rocks and general run enhancement.

Continued improvement of the lift served areas and guest services was the focus of the 1990′s. Snowmaking was installed in the Aspen and base areas. Parking areas were improved and expanded. Emphasis was put on rock removal and summer run “grooming” aimed at increased quality in winter slope grooming. The ski school and snowboard programs continued to grow resulting with the Ski School developing into the Winter Sports School.

In 2001 the old Minor-Denver double lift was replaced with a Yan triple chair and extended 200 vertical feet. The additional terrain brought new excitement and potential. Attempting to tame some of these new areas is the focus of the early 2000′s. The growth of beginner ski and board program necessitated the conversion of the Aspen double lift to a triple chair.

While old timers and our new young dare devils still loudly proclaim, “If you can ski Pebble Creek you can ski anywhere”, Pebble Creek is also a good place to learn to ski. The dream of going up and over to the “superior” slopes on the east side of the Mount Bonneville remains strong and planning continues. The memory of our skiing pioneers and the Skyline legacy carry us to the future.

Some of the above are excerpts from: “The Rock: History of Pebble Creek Ski Area” By:Julie Roche



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Pebble Creek Ski Area


A family favorite for decades, Pebble Creek is a small, yet challenging ski area located near Pocatello in southeastern Idaho.  An excellent beginner area at the base and steep chutes above can satisfy the beginner or thrill-seeking needs of the whole family.


  • Pebble Creek has three terrain parks.
  • Ski helmets, skis, snowboards, and boots are available to rent.
  • Runs: 54 Runs on 1,100 skiable acres (Permitted Area)
  • Lifts: 3-Triple Chairs
  • Vertical Drop: 2,200 Feet (Lift Served), Summit: 8,560 Feet (Lift Served)
  • Check the Idaho Ski Areas Association website for more information.

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Of Fish, Tribes and Industry

The state’s most powerful industry groups, conservationists and tribes are arguing over cancer risk, pollution, and huge expenses for businesses and cities.

And it all comes down to how much fish we eat.

On Wednesday, the Senate Resources and Conservation Committee will hear testimony on a controversial Department of Environmental Quality water rule, which uses fish consumption rates to determine acceptable water pollutant levels.

It’s a complex rule, but here are the basics:

Why it’s important:

Fish accumulate toxins and carcinogens from their habitat, and pass small amounts of those on to the people who eat them. People are also exposed to those toxins through other ways, such as  swimming. Some of those carcinogens occur naturally, while others are the result of pollution. The amount of toxins is small, but the chemicals can build up over time, especially for those who eat large amounts of fish.

The Environmental Protection Agency directed states to come up with risk assessments for their residents based on how much fish they eat. Idaho DEQ surveyed thousands of people, including anglers and tribal members, and held meetings with stakeholders over the course of three years. The Nez Perce Tribe and Shoshone Bannock Tribe also conducted their own respective surveys.

Based on that information, DEQ wrote the proposed rule, which updates criteria for 208 toxic substances found in water.

You can read more about the rulemaking process and timeline here.

“In developing these rules, our number one priority was to protect public health and that will always be our primary goal,” DEQ director John Tippets said while speaking to the Senate Resources and Conservation Committee on Monday.

The problem:

If you take a look at public comments, almost no one is happy with the standards DEQ proposed.

According to the survey, members of Idaho’s American Indian tribes eat more fish than non-tribal members. That puts tribal members at greater risk of getting cancer if water quality standards are based on lower fish consumption rates, argued regional tribal representatives during DEQ’s public comment period.

“DEQ has proposed water quality standards for Idaho’s waters that were calculated using substantially reduced levels of protection for tribal people as compared to the general population,” wrote representatives from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation agreed, saying “This is discriminatory, would result in disproportionate and disparate risk to tribal members, and would provide unequal protection as a direct product of state action.”

There is also the question of how much fish people currently eat versus how much more people would eat without modern factors like dams, smaller fish populations and pollutants. Tribes and conservation groups want DEQ to factor in these higher hypothetical rates when considering risk factors, though the agency argues the EPA has never defined suppression rates, nor does it require states to use those numbers when setting quality standards.

An expensive proposal:

On the other hand, industry groups and municipalities argue that the actual threat of cancer is miniscule, while the cost of meeting the proposed standard will be enormous for cities and businesses.

The Northwest Food Processors Association wrote the proposed standards might not be achievable for businesses. “It should be noted that these unrealistic risk thresholds will result in significant expenditures to meet criteria that, at best, will provide negligible improvements for human or ecological health. These costs do not just impact the regulated community, but will impact all Idaho businesses and residents,” the group wrote.

The American Forest and Paper Association agreed. “This policy would reduce potential cancer incidence by a fraction of a cancer case per year compared to criteria set at (a lower rate),” the association wrote. “But, such a policy also imposes costs on cities, counties, rate payers and industry of potentially several billion dollars, harming the economy of the state.”

What’s next:

The Senate Resources and Conservation Committee will hear testimony on the proposed rule on Wednesday.

JANUARY 18, 2016  by   Melissa Davlin

Source:  IdahoReports


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Arctic Redpolls Invade Southeast Idaho

With a group of 20 small birds attacking the seeds on the birch trees at Beaver Dick Park, seeds littered the snow turning it into a tan brown carpet.

“Common Redpolls,” I thought as I got out of the truck for a closer look. They moved a little higher in the trees, but did not stop their eating in the bitter cold of a minus 12 degrees.

This winter is the first time I had seen flocks of them since the winter of 2012-2013 when they invaded most birch trees in the Upper Snake River Valley. While following big game migrations from the mountains two weeks ago, I found a small flock on the desert, north of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes. They have also been recorded in Ashton and on the Rexburg and Howe Christmas Bird Counts. In the last few days they have been visiting my backyard to feed on Niger seeds

Common Redpolls are an Arctic breeding bird with most of their summer range above the Arctic Circle. They are not migratory, but are one of the irruption species, meaning they move to find food. At times they will join mixed flocks of other finches in their movements and are usually seen with American Goldfinch and Pine Siskins. Their irruptions usually coincide with a successful breeding season followed by winter food storage in Canada and Alaska.

When birch and alder trees fail to produce large amounts of catkins for the redpolls’ winter food they head south in large numbers. Three years ago flocks from 30 to 100 were observed along the highways of southeastern Idaho. Most observed redpolls are singles or small groups mixed with other wintering finches.

Redpolls have several interesting habits and adaptations. One is they have a sac inside their throat area where they store seeds. During the winter they may knock seeds off plants, swoop down, store the food in these sacs, then fly to a more secluded area to shell and eat seeds. On windswept stubble fields, they may forage in waves of large flocks across the fields.

Another interesting habit for them is during cold weather they will fly from a high tree diving into the deep snow. They will then create a snow tunnel about a foot long as a roosting chamber. This allows the snow to act as insulation against the cold. Ruffed Grouse and Boy Scouts use these same techniques – though Boy Scouts shouldn’t dive into the snow but dig snow caves.

Attracting these itinerant birds to your backyard will be hit and miss. Mature birch trees will provide them with their favorite food, but they will also visit Niger (thistle) seed sacks as well as sunflower feeders. Large flocks have been seen around Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton and most cemeteries that have birch trees in them. Recently, large flocks have been seen in alder trees along the Henrys Fork of the Snake River and the Little Lost River north of Howe.

If they visit your backyard in large flocks you will know immediately while small groups may go unnoticed. Large groups will empty your feeders fast while keeping up a constant chatter.Arctic Redpoll

I love the chatter of kids and birds; hopefully this will be a winter when more Common Redpolls stay all winter and will entertain me during the bitter cold months.

January 16th, 2016 By: Bill Schiess,



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An abnormal growth of teeth, hair and whiskers on the forehead of a yearling mountain lion has some local biologists intrigued and others skeptical.

“A hunter brought it in, and there was something extra,” Idaho Fish and Game Region 5 spokeswoman Jennifer Jackson told “We haven’t seen anything like this in our region.”

The young male was killed Dec. 30 in Franklin County, about 8 miles southwest of Preston by an Idaho hunter. As per state law, the hunter brought his kill to IDFG to be checked. IDFG officers are required to remove a tooth from harvested mountain lions to gather data on their ages, Jackson said.

“In the process of harvesting the animal we had an officer check it, and we determined something really interesting was going on,” Jackson said.

The Preston conservation officer described the abnormality as a growth of muscle and dense tissue with several teeth, hair and whiskers growing out of it. He photographed the animal, and the hunter took the carcass home, apparently to be taken to a taxidermist, Jackson said. sent the photo to several biologists at east Idaho universities who suggested the photo might be a fake. However, IDFG officials confirmed the animal had been physically handled and examined by the conservation officer.

But the animal was not examined by veterinarians or biologists. Regional IDFG biologists said it’s impossible to determine the exact cause of the deformity based solely on visual observations of a photo.

But the biologists do have some theories.

Jackson said the mass of teeth, hair and whiskers could be a conjoined twin that stopped developing and embedded itself on the lion while in the womb.

Another theory, which officials say is more likely, is that the growth is a teratoma — a rare tumor that contains extremities like teeth and hair. reached out to the Wildlife Health Forensic Laboratory in Boise for more information about the condition.

The state wildlife veterinarian was unavailable, but laboratory staffers told that when animals are developing in utero, an identical twin can fuse to a body and create a mass of cells. That mass of cells — the teratoma — can sometimes develop teeth, hair, bone and skin. As animals get older, the mass typically gets larger.

Biologists are attempting to contact the hunter so they can take a closer look at the carcass.

“Our biologists didn’t get to examine it, and we’re interested in looking at this one a bit closer,” Jackson said.

8  Updated at 4:45 pm, January 7th, 2016 By: Nate Sunderland,


The following is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game would like to share a few facts and some additional information regarding the harvest of this mountain lion and its unusual deformity.

  • A young male mountain lion was legally harvested last week in the Weston area about 8 miles southwest of Preston, Idaho.
  • On December 30, 2015, the mountain lion was observed attacking a dog on a landowner’s property in the rural Weston area. The mountain lion ran off and its tracks were followed through other properties and eventually to a place where the cat had retreated to the hills. Within three hours of the attack, the hunter began tracking the mountain lion with the use of hounds and harvested the cat legally that same day. The dog involved in the attack survived.
  • The mountain lion had an unusual deformity—fully-formed teeth and what appears to be small whiskers were growing out of hard fur-covered tissue on the left side of the animal’s forehead.
  • Idaho Fish and Game cannot definitively explain why this abnormality developed on this mountain lion. It is possible that the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the other fetus. It is also possible that deformity was a teratoma tumor. These kinds of tumors are composed of tissue from which teeth, hair, and even fingers and toes can develop. They are rare in humans and animals. Biologists from the southeast region of Idaho Fish and Game have never seen anything like this particular deformity before.
  • As required by law, the hunter reported the harvest of the mountain lion to Fish and Game, and a conservation officer checked the mountain lion– a process that includes verifying the hunter has a valid hunting license and tag, recording information about the harvest location and method of take, recording information about the animal itself, and pulling a tooth for age analysis. The hunter is not required to turn the animal over to Fish and Game for further analysis.
  • Mountain lions are common in Idaho and a native game species. Because of their elusiveness and wariness, human encounters with mountain lions are rare. During the winter, deer , turkeys, and other prey species move to lower elevations to escape colder temperatures and deeper snow, often gathering where urban or rural communities interface with the surrounding wildlands. These prey species attract predators like mountain lions. When that happens, conflicts with people, livestock, and pets can occasionally occur.
  • Mountain lions can be legally hunted in Idaho. Mountain lions are classified as a big game animal like elk and mule deer. That means that they can only be pursued during set seasons in areas open to hunting with the appropriate license and tag. In general, only one mountain lion can be harvested by a hunter in any given year. Dogs can be legally used to assist a hunter with the pursuit of mountain lions with the appropriate hound hunter permit.

General Mountain Lion Facts

Mountain lions are large cats, tawny to grayish in color, weighing 80 to 200 lbs. The tail, which can range in length from 2 ½ to 3 feet, is rope-like in appearance (not bushy) and has a black tip.

Mountain lions have large home ranges (50 to 150 square miles).



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New bullet designs and construction have given new life and new versatility to the venerable .45-70 Government.

By Kelly Ross

As a young man growing up in British Columbia in the 1960s, I had little exposure to lever guns or the cartridges associated with them. If I did see someone with a lever-action it was either an old Savage Model 99 in .308 Winchester or the then-racy Winchester Model 88 in .284 Winchester. Bolt-actions were the norm and young big-game hunters usually started out with a budget-priced “sporterized” Lee Enfield in .303 British and aspired to eventually move up to a new Parker Hale bolt-action chambered for .30-06.

The old .45-70 Government was something I had read about, but had never actually seen, and it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that I finally saw one in use for the first time. As was the general consensus of pretty much anything you read on the cartridge in those days, I believed the .45-70 to be a cartridge for close-range work, shooting a big, heavy bullet with the trajectory of a brick.

I was elk hunting in the Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia and had located a small meadow with lots of elk sign. Wanting to get a better handle on when the elk were coming and going, I found a comfortable spot to glass and settled in for the evening vigil. About fifteen minutes before the end of legal shooting light a few cows and calves began to filter out of the spruce trees on the far side of the meadow and were soon followed by a raghorn bull.

As it turned out, I was not the only one who had noticed the elk sign. While watching the young bull through my binocular, I saw him stagger from the impact of a bullet as it slammed into his right shoulder, and simultaneously heard a loud report. The bull stumbled forward a few yards, fighting to stay on his feet, and piled up. Moments later I spotted the lone hunter as he exited the forest edge, walking slowly towards the downed elk.

My elk hunt was definitely over, so I stood up, whistled to get the hunter’s attention, and then walked over to meet him at the elk. As I approached the hunter and the downed elk, my focus shifted from the bull to his rifle, as it was not the type of firearm you usually saw being carried by an elk hunter in the Canadian Rockies. Turned out the lucky hunter was carrying a Sharps reproduction chambered in .45-70 Government and he had made a 250-yard shot with open sights, using a heavy cast bullet. Needless to say, I was impressed by both his shooting and the real-world performance of the rifle and cartridge on a big-game animal that has a bit of a reputation for being rather tenacious.

Designed for use in the Model 1873 “Trapdoor” Springfield, the .45-70 was originally called the .45-70-405, which stood for the cartridge being .45-caliber, using 70 grains of black powder behind a 405-grain cast lead bullet. This load produced a velocity of about 1,300 fps in the long-barrel version of the Springfield that was carried by the infantry. A reduced load with 55 grains of black powder, with a muzzle velocity of 1,100 fps, was used in the shorter-barrel carbines carried by the cavalry.

As is usually the case with cartridges designed for military use, many thousands of veterans developed an appreciation for the .45-70 and it quickly gained popularity with sportsmen in the United States. In order to meet the new demand for rifles in this cartridge, manufacturers quickly began producing rifles chambered for the .45-70, rifles which helped define an era, such as the Sharps 1874, Winchester’s Model 1885 High Wall and Model 1886 lever-action, and the Remington Rolling Block.  These were followed a few years later by Marlin releasing the lever-action model M1895.

Even when using the simple, paper-patched cast bullets available at the time, the .45-70 was an extremely potent round and gained a reputation for being very effective on large, tough game such as the plains bison and grizzly bear. Through the 1880s and 1890s, the .45-70 was arguably the most popular big-game cartridge in the USA. Initially the commercial designation for the cartridge was .45 Government, but it was later changed to .45-70 U.S Government and eventually shortened to .45-70 Government or .45-70 Govt.

With the development of smokeless powder, “high velocity” sporting cartridges arrived in the 1890s.  In the early stages of their development the smaller caliber smokeless cartridges encountered many problems with bullet design—increased velocity caused some to fall apart on impact and failed to give adequate penetration. Others, beefed up in an attempt to counteract that problem, penciled through game without creating a large enough wound channel.

Eventually, however, bullet designs improved and many of the performance issues were overcome.  The twentieth century’s newer generation of hunters embraced the high-velocity smokeless cartridges and the practical implications of a flatter trajectory. The writing was on the wall, so to speak, and the popularity of the old big-bore blackpowder cartridges began a steady downhill slide. Marlin discontinued the M1895 in 1917 and Winchester discontinued production of the 1886 rifle in .45-70 in 1935.

For about four decades the .45-70 teetered on the edge of extinction, kept alive mostly by a few handloaders and blackpowder enthusiasts. Too good to die, the .45-70 finally got a new lease on life during the 1970s. Marlin began manufacturing the new model 1895; Ruger offered the chambering in their classy No. 1 single-shot rifles, and Shiloh Products Inc. of New York began producing Sharps rifle reproductions.

The reintroduction of Marlin’s new model 1895 in .45-70 drew a lot of attention from bear hunters and guides, who immediately recognized the benefits of this fast handling powerhouse. Not too long after my encounter with the Sharps-packing elk hunter I had my second encounter with the .45-70.

I was guiding fall coastal grizzly hunts in British Columbia. We hunted the big bears by slowly wading up shallow tributaries of coastal rivers, where the bears had gathered in large numbers to feast on the fall salmon runs. The floatplane arrived with supplies, our two bear hunters, and their gear. Once the hunters were settled in at camp, we put up a target to check their rifles and I found out that the hunter I would be guiding was packing a new Marlin M1895 in .45-70. This generated a lot of discussion, as most clients at that time were carrying shiny new Weatherby Mark Vs or Remington Model 700s chambered in one of the popular fast-stepping magnums.

As it turned out, the .45-70 proved to be very much up to the task at hand. The hunter killed a big boar, dropping him in his tracks at forty yards and then quickly worked the lever and put in an insurance round. It was over rapidly and it gave me a new appreciation for both lever guns and the centenarian cartridge.

With .45-70 ammunition, the strengths and weaknesses of the various rifle actions are used to split reloading data for the .45-70 into three categories. The weakest are the Trapdoor Springfields and early lever-actions and single-shots. The next category is the higher-pressure loads for the modern lever action rifles like the post-1972 Marlin M1895. The third category and highest-pressure loads are those for the Ruger No.1 single-shot rifle or custom bolt-action rifles built on modern actions.


All .45-70 ammunition produced by the major U.S manufacturers is loaded to very safe pressures for use in antique arms. To some extent, this precaution has limited the popularity of the .45-70, but as many older firearms are still in circulation and in use, low-pressure factory ammunition is an unfortunate necessity so manufacturers can protect themselves against litigation.

Maximum pressures in factory loads are typically limited to 28,000 CUP or 28,000 PSI so that they will work safely in all categories, and in truth, most factory loads do not come anywhere close to that pressure. Reloading guides usually suggest maximum working pressures of 40,000 CUP for the second category of higher-pressure loads for the Marlin M1895 lever-action, and 50,000 CUP for ammunition used in the Ruger No. 1 and custom bolt-actions.

Remington, Winchester, and Federal all produce loads for 300-grain jacketed bullets with velocities between 1,600 and 1,800 fps in 22- to 24-inch barrels.  In the new Marlin M1895 category, 300-grain bullets can be safely driven at 2,200 to 2,300 fps and in the Ruger No.1 category at 2,400 to 2,500 fps. Needless to say, there is a marked difference in the trajectory with the significant difference in velocities.

Many question whether there is a significant enough difference in the pressures that can be handled by the robust Marlin action and the Ruger No. 1 to warrant three distinct load categories, believing that the number of pressure-related categories for reloading could be simplified to just two: low and high velocity. With that in mind, I have noticed that several publications have, in fact, started to do just that.

With traditional cup-and-core style bullets, the weights that have usually been offered in factory ammunition are 300, 350, 400, and 405 grains. More recently Hornady introduced the 325-grain FTX. The lighter bullets were intended for deer-size game and the heavier bullets for larger game, such as elk, moose, and bears.

As mentioned earlier, factory loads have always been rather anemic due to potential liability issues. An example of this is Remington’s load with its 405-grain soft point. The advertised velocity was just over 1,300 fps, but in reality, usually chronographed at about 1,200 fps. Even the newer and highly touted Hornady LeveRevolution ammunition with its 325-grain FTX rubber-tipped bullet chronographed at just over 1,900 fps in my Marlin 1895 Classic.

Getting the true potential out of the .45-70 has traditionally only been possible for handloaders, but there are a couple of smaller ammunition manufacturers that are producing ammunition that increases the old cartridge’s performance to a whole new level. One of these companies is Buffalo Bore Ammunition of Salmon, Idaho. They offer a load with a 405-grain jacketed bullet at 2,000 fps and a 300-grain load at 2,350 fps.

The many new mono-metal bullets being offered by the bullet manufacturers has also created additional options and improved downrange performance for the .45-70. Mono-metal bullets are long for their weight when compared to conventional bullets, with increased sectional density and in some cases higher ballistic coefficient. The expected performance of mono-metal bullets in the field is much different than that of conventional jacketed bullets. They typically provide a wider wound channel than conventional heavy-for-caliber .45-70 bullets as well as superior penetration.

Barnes offers handloaders its TSX bullets in 250, 300, and 350 grains. Buffalo Bore offers its ammunition in two different loads with Barnes TSX bullets, the 300-grain TSX-FN at 2,350 fps, and the 350-grain TSX-FN at 2,150 fps.

Recently Hornady introduced a 250-grain mono-metal bullet with a flexible rubber tip called the MonoFlex and are offering it in their LeveRevolution ammunition.

Another company that is now offering a line-up of exciting mono-metal bullets designed with the .45-70 in mind is Cutting Edge Bullets of Drifting, Pennsylvania. Their solid brass, precision machined, .458 caliber Lever+Raptor bullets come in 250, 295, and 370 grains. These bullets are designed to create a massive wound channel and provide maximum penetration.

Those who prefer to use heavy-jacketed bullets in the .45-70 also have many options these days from a number of premium quality bullet manufacturers such as Hawk, North Fork, and Swift. Commercial cast lead bullets are also available from several companies in a variety of weights and bullet shapes, and, of course, Lee, RCBS, and Lyman offer all the equipment necessary for those who would prefer to roll their own.

Garret Cartridges of Texas is a custom ammunition manufacturer that offers .45-70 loads with specially designed hard cast bullets. Their Hammerhead bullets have a wide meplat and are available in their ammunition in weights from 420 to 540 grains. These bullets provide hunters using their .45-70s on large, heavy game with outstanding penetration.

The .45-70 has been typecast for many years as a cartridge that shoots big, heavy bullets at very modest velocities and is therefore a cartridge only suitable for close-range hunting in heavy cover, despite the fact that it was originally designed and intended to be used by the U.S. military at ranges up to 1,000 yards. Despite untold improvements in reloading components over the years that have breathed new life into many old cartridges, the .45-70’s inherent potential has been deliberately suppressed by manufacturers of commercial ammunition due to liability issues.

New bullet designs and construction offer significant improvements in the .45-70’s downrange performance. While it has only been possible for handloaders to tap into these improvements in the past, custom ammunition companies are now offering ammunition that capitalizes on the newly available components and the .45-70’s inherent accuracy, extending its useful range by at least 50 yards.

In the not-too-distant past the .45-70 was considered to be at its best inside 150 yards, with 175 to 200 yards being about as far as a prudent hunter should consider shooting. With a bit of practice and the right ammunition, there is no reason why the .45-70 cannot now be used effectively out to 250 yards. And that makes this grand old cartridge viable for the majority of hunters, as most big-game animals are taken inside of 200 yards year in and year out.

The .45-70 Government is much more versatile than many realize, and with the right bullets it is capable of cleanly taking the biggest game animals in North America, including the big bears, moose, and bison. It has been used many times by hunters for plains game in Africa and has successfully taken all of the Big Five. Few cartridges have survived and maintained their usefulness as long as the .45-70.

This past fall I had the pleasure of hosting a hunter from southern California on a black bear hunt. Aaron’s rifle of choice was a Shiloh Sharps in .45-70, shooting a heavy 512-grain hard cast bullet with a .3-inch meplat that he had cast himself with a Lyman custom mold.

It was definitely a case of déjà vu. Forty years had gone by since I had watched that young bull elk get hammered by a heavy cast bullet from a Sharps replica in .45-70.

Just two days into his bear hunt, at last light, Aaron squeezed the trigger on his Sharps and sent that heavy cast bullet on its way. The bullet smashed a shoulder and traversed the chest cavity of the big bruin, which then ran a few yards and collapsed. Some things just work.

Source:  Sports

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Idaho hunters still have time to exchange tags for wildfire-impacted hunts

HUNTING — Cooler weather and precipitation, including snowstorms in the Central Idaho mountains, have slowed fire activity and allowed land agencies to lift some restrictions, and the Forest Service expects to lift more by the weekend.

But all lands have not reopened and hunters should check before heading to their hunting spots.

Here’s an update from Idaho Fish and Game:

Two basic actions are taking place by land management agencies.

  • First, fire restrictions are being lifted, which apply to campfires, barbecues, gas engines and other flame-producing devices. Cooler weather has allowed land management agencies to lift most fire restrictions, but hunters should double check if they are camping and want a campfire.
  • The second action is lifting land closures, and agencies are allowing people to return to many areas adjacent to fires while keeping the areas near the fires closed to public access.

Hunters can see fire activity and get information about access closures and campfire restrictions at Fire closure maps will be updated as new information arrives, but there may be some lag time while maps are redrawn.

Some of the most significant reductions in area closures are in the Forest Service’s  Coeur d’Alene River and St. Joe Ranger Districts.

“The weather has finally brought some rain and cooler temperatures, which means fires are less likely to spread aggressively,” said Mary Farnsworth, Forest Supervisor. “Under these conditions fires are more manageable and we are able to reduce the size of emergency closure areas while still providing an adequate buffer for public safety.”

Nez Perce/Clearwater National Forest has also lifted some area closures in the Red River area. A closure associated with the Red River Complex south and east of Red River was lifted and replaced with a smaller closure south and east of Red River. The closure is roughly bounded by the Magruder Road 468 on the north and the Salmon River on the south.

Areas north and east of Riggins and south of Grangeville are closed due to the Teepee Fire, as well as several key roads into the area.

With area closures lifting, hunters should have access to most areas. But hunters who bought elk tags in five zones have until Sept. 11 to decide if they want to keep their tags, exchange them for a different elk tag, or turn in their tags for a receipt they can redeem for another tag later this year. Tags can only be exchanged at regional offices, but hunters choosing the receipt option can redeem it for a tag this year only at any Fish and Game license vendor at no cost.

Elk tags eligible are:

  • Panhandle Zone A and B tags.
  • Lolo Zone A tags
  • Dworshak Zone A and B tags
  • Elk City Zone A and B tags.
  • McCall Zone A tag.

All other elk hunters have the option of exchanging controlled-hunt tags or general season tags, but it must be done before the season for that tag begins. All exchanges must be done at Fish and Game regional offices.

Source:  The Spokesman

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Conservation organization gets a huge infusion of funds to support its work on wildlife habitat and hunting heritage.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has announced that it is the recipient of one of the largest endowments ever gifted to a hunter-based, wildlife conservation organization. The $30 million Torstenson Family Endowment will allow RMEF to vastly accelerate the rate at which its carries out its mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

“This is a monumental game-changer for RMEF,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Thanks to the generosity of the Torstenson family, this endowment allows RMEF to expand Bob Torstenson’s passion and vision for wildlife and conservation in ways we could have never imagined.”

The Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) comes as a result of the sale of the Torstenson Wildlife Center, formerly known as the Double H Ranch, a sprawling 93,403-acre ranch in west-central New Mexico that was gifted to RMEF by Bob Torstenson in 2002.

RMEF will use proceeds from the TFE to further its core mission programs: permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration, and hunting heritage.

Allen told one interviewer that RMEF had been maintaining the ranch since 2002, but it became difficult and expensive for the organization to do so, so a sale to a conservation-minded buyer was arranged to form the basis of the endowment. Interest from the endowment, expected to average 1 million to 1.5 million every year, will be spent to further RMEF’s wildlife habitat, elk restoration, and hunter access goals.

“The impact this endowment will have on RMEF’s on-the-ground projects is incredibly far-reaching,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This gives us the potential to increase our mission accomplishments substantially. RMEF plans to invest half a million dollars this year alone toward improving elk habitat and supporting hunting heritage projects.”

RMEF still maintains a conservation easement on the entire 93,403 acres of deeded land from the original ranch, which stretches between two mountain ranges—the Datils and the Gallinas—and two portions of the Cibola National Forest. It harbors thickly timbered ridges, deep coulees and steep hillsides. At the property’s center is an expansive plain, 80-acre lake and accompanying riparian habitat. It is home to a large herd of elk, as well as deer, pronghorns, mountain lions, coyotes, quail, and a variety of songbirds and other species. The landscape today looks the same as when Bob Torstenson originally placed the easement on the property to conserve and protect its habitat in perpetuity.

Source:  Sports Affield


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Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 2-8 National Farmers Market Week

WASHINGTON-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 2 through 8, 2015, as “National Farmers Market Week.” The declaration was made official by  proclamation signed by Secretary Vilsack. This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week in honor of the important role that farmers markets play in local economies. Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate thousands of our nation’s farmers markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

“National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support farmers and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms and providing Americans with fresh, healthy food.”

Throughout the week, USDA officials will celebrate at farmers market locations across the country. On Saturday, Aug. 1, Anne Alonzo, the Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – which conducts research, provides technical assistance, and awards grants to support farmers markets – will kick off the week at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the oldest in New Mexico and is ranked as one of the top ten farmers markets nationwide.

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9 Things You Need to Know About Water Quality


— or lack of it — is the buzzword in environmental and agricultural circles these days.

Here are nine points to keep in mind about the issue following a panel discussion at the recently held North American Agricultural Journalists meeting in Washington, D.C.

      1.  Agricultural fertilizer is the largest contributor to nitrate levels in the Gulf of Mexico. When combined, though, other causes contribute more nitrates.

Bill Wilber, chief of the National Water Quality Assessment Program for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), cited USGS data from 2002 that showed farm fertilizer contributed 41% of nitrogen (N) to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin. Even if all farm fertilizer was eliminated, though, other sources also contribute the following:

* Atmospheric deposition: 26%

* Manure (confined): 10%

* Fixation and other legume sources: 9%

* Wastewater treatment/facilities: 7%

* Urban areas: 7%

  1. Nitrate loads into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin rose 14% from 1980 to 2010. Loading hasn’t been uniform, though, among various river basins emptying into the Mississippi River Basin. 

Nitrate loading in the Illinois River Basin declined 15% in that 30-year period. However, Wilber notes USGS scientists cannot adequately explain this and, if improved, on-farm fertility management is the reason.

  1. It’s not just surface runoff that may be increasing river nitrate levels. “Groundwater may also be an increasing source of nitrates to the Mississippi River Basin,” says Wilber.

Wilber says that since the mid-1990s, nitrate concentrations have risen during low stream flows at the Mississippi River. Nitrates in groundwater may keying this, says Wilber.

Due to slow nitrogen movement through groundwater, recent stream quality changes may reflect land management from many years ago. For the same reason, the full effect of current management practices may not be measurable in rivers until many years in the future, he says.

  1. Conservation practices can be antagonistic when it comes to nutrient management. “If you apply one conservation practice, it can accentuate the loss of other nutrients,” says Don Parrish, senior director, regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau. “Nitrogen and phosphorus (P) move through the landscape totally differently. “Phosphorus moves over the soil, nitrogen moves through the soil.”
  2. The growing season isn’t when most nutrients are lost. “Most nutrient losses occur from November through May,” says Parrish.

That’s the time when there’s little plant growth occurring. Little plant root means little uptake of nutrients. If nutrients are present, precipitation can cause it to move downward in the soil and exit fields via tile lines.

Cover crops are one way to salvage nutrients, although it takes more management to implement them, he says.

  1. Conservation practices may not be enough if crop rotations do not change. That’s according to Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the Environmental Working Group. “Even if producers become increasingly efficient, say if they lost just 5% of fertilizer applied, multiplied over millions of acres (an estimated combined 173.8 million acres for 2015 for corn and soybeans), that still is a significant nutrient load,” he says.
  2. Regulation may be inevitable . . .

“It may not be a question of if agriculture should be regulated, but how agriculture should be regulated,” says Cox. “My answer is we need a basic standard core set of conservation practices that landowners have in place.”

After talking to farmers and scientists, here’s a set Cox would like to see:

* Buffers between cropland and waterways.

* Grass waterways. 

* Management practices to reduce the impact of cattle and other livestock on stream quality.

* No manure application on frozen or saturated ground. 

  1. . . . but mandatory standards have problems.

“If buffers are not managed right, they may cause more problems than solutions,” says Parrish. “So just be careful about how you mandate things on the landscape.”

A better way may be what’s going on in Ohio and P-spurred algae blooms in Lake Erie, he says. Ohio farmers are enrolling in continuing education and becoming certified to apply fertilizer. “Education is knowledge and power,” he says.

    9.  There’s good news in all this, though. From 1980 to 2014, U.S. corn production rose nearly 115%. “That’s been done with 4% less nutrients,” says Parrish. “That is a huge gain in efficiency

Source:  Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/;   Gil Gullickson  05/05/2015

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USDA: Nearly all of Idaho affected by natural disaster areas

Drought cornBOISE, IDAHO — Federal officials say that more than 90 percent of Idaho’s counties have either been declared natural disaster areas or are bordering disaster areas because of prolonged drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Kootenai and Latah counties as the most recent regions to qualify as primary natural disaster areas.

The declaration means farmers and ranchers in those counties are eligible to apply for low interest federal emergency loans. Eligibility is open for eight months from the date of the declaration.

Jeff Mitchell with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency says it’s unprecedented for nearly all of the state to be designated a natural disaster because of a drought.

The agency also designated a handful of contiguous counties in Washington and Montana along northern Idaho’s borders to qualify for emergency loans

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What’s New? Idaho Fish and Game 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons & Rules

Idaho fish and game 2015 2016Two Year Seasons!

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission set big game seasons for two years.

Please keep this booklet for both the 2015 and 2016 hunting seasons.


Expanded Youth Hunting: There are several new youth hunting opportunities offered – see youth-only hunts for deer on page 23; elk on page 52; pronghorn on page 63; and black bear on page 70.

Information on junior licenses, youth hunts and Three-year licenses have been consolidated on page 105.

Use of Aircraft/Unmanned Aircraft: It is unlawful to make use of any aircraft, including unmanned aircraft (drones), to locate any big game animals for the purpose of hunting those animals during the same calendar day those animals were located from the air. See page 95.

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Price Uncertainty Underscores Cattle Business Risk Through This Year

CattleYear-over-year prices for finished steers remain high, but it looks like in general, cattle futures have peaked for the season, and that’s likely to trim gains heading into summer. The cattle business has responded to supply-driven price movement and begun to trim the overall herd size. Although that’s fundamentally bullish, the industry looks to face a lot of uncertainty — and resulting price risk — in the next few months, says one economist.

Last year was a big one for all sectors of the livestock industry; high prices drove up production. As prices started to respond earlier this year, some sectors kept growing (maybe a good thing for the poultry industry battling bird flu-driven culls numbering in the millions right now). While overall herd numbers continue strong, beef producers have started tapering off production in the form of lower slaughter numbers, likely in an effort to retain more breeding stock. It’s a combination that may send production lower in the long-run, says Purdue University Extension livestock economist and cattle market expert Chris Hurt.

“In the first four months of this year, beef production was down by 5%, with slaughter numbers down 7% but market weights up 2%. The reduction is the result of a beef cowherd that had been in decline from 2006, reaching its low point in 2014. Expansion of the beef cowherd began in the last-half of 2014 and current indications are that the expansion continues. Producers can increase cow numbers both by retaining heifers and by keeping older cows for another cycle when they normally would have gone to market,” he says in his latest beef market analysis. “Slaughter of females so far this year indicate producers are doing both. Heifer slaughter last year was down 8%, and so far this year, heifer slaughter remains down 7%. Beef cow slaughter in 2014 was down 18% and remains down 17% so far this year. While these producer behaviors will build the beef cowherd and eventually increase beef production, the impact for this year is to pull down beef production.”

Alongside lower heifer slaughter numbers, retention is rising, recent USDA data show. And, more calves are being backgrounded right now because of high prices and improved forage conditions in regions like parts of the central and southern Plains, leading to heavier placements.

“The number of heifers in feedlots as of April 1 was down 10% from previous year levels, most likely confirming a high rate of heifer retention for herd expansion. Secondly, as a result of record-high calf prices and weak live cattle futures prices, fewer lightweight calves are moving to feedlots as producers keep those calves on forage diets and background them for longer,” Hurt says. “The number of calves under 700 pounds entering feedlots in March was down 11%, but the number over 800 pounds was up 16%. In fact, 40% of all placements in March were older calves that were 800 pounds and higher. Improved pasture conditions in the central and southern Plains provides some of the explanation, but there were also reports of calves staying on winter wheat pasture further into the spring this year.”

Taken all together, these dynamics make pegging price direction moving forward a tough task. On one hand, Hurt says the recent investment feeders in particular have put into the business in the last year or so make them susceptible to considerable losses if live cattle prices slump too hard. Whereas, if the market stays on solid ground — and Hurt says that’s just as likely as cash prices slipping in the near term — profits will stay intact. That puts a premium on managing inputs — namely feed prices — based on per-head budgets, not projected profit, especially with seedstock still well on the expensive side.

“The wide difference of opinions about cattle prices for the remainder of this year point out the large price risks for cattle finishers. Cattle feeders already have record amounts of money invested in the cattle in their feedlots. Even with the lowest feed prices in five years, they are vulnerable to weak live cattle prices as the futures market is currently suggesting. Feedlot managers should strive to price calves based on budgets using current futures prices and then should look to hedge those cattle with either futures or put options,” Hurt says. “If feedlot managers find themselves bidding so much for calves that they have to have a sizable rally in the live cattle futures to cover costs, they may want to rethink buying the calves in the first place.”

Jeff Caldwell    05/06/2015

Multimedia Editor for and Successful Farming magazine.



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El Niño’s Back Stronger Than Earlier Thought

El NinoThe talk around much of the Corn Belt and Plains the last couple of weeks has been Mother Nature’s latest tantrum: She let a lot of planting happen earlier this spring, but now she’s got the planting window locked shut in much of the area where farmers have corn and soybeans to plant, and is making things awfully tough for the winter wheat crop to turn golden and fill its heads as anomalous and sometimes heavy rain continues to fall.

But, summer’s on the way…eventually…and should bring warmer temperatures and more sunshine, 2 things the crops in much of the nation’s central third desperately need. Though that need is high, it may be a while before it kicks in, and when it does, it may not be as warm as normal. That’s because the long-anticipated El Niño is finally materializing into more than just a weak formation. New data show it could be stronger than earlier expected, and that could mean a cool, wet trend for this summer’s Corn Belt weather, forecasters say.

“According to the NWS Climate Prediction Center, El Niño has arrived and has a 90% chance of staying this summer and an 80% chance of remaining through the end of 2015. In terms of strength, this El Niño is expected to be weak to moderate. Illinois is expected to have an increased chance of cooler-than-average conditions in the late summer and on into fall,” says Jim Angel, Illinois state climatologist. “The El Niño event has arrived (finally) and heavily influenced the NWS climate outlooks released this morning. For June (first map below), the Southern Plains are expected to have an increased chance of cooler-than-average temperatures. A large part of the US is expected to have an increased chance of wetter-than-average precipitation, including the southern two-thirds of Illinois.”

An outlook like Angel’s reflects the anticipation of a stronger system to move into place; since speculation began that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was transitioning from La Niña to El Niño about 2 years ago, most have expected El Niño to come on in a weak way, in fact just barely tilting that way from the median between the 2 and yielding just slight changes in the overall weather trend. But, the trend has moved toward a stronger formation of El Niño, and though it’s still mostly in the “moderate” category at its strongest, the latest outlooks mean the mercury may not push too high this summer in much of corn and soybean country.

“Most models have trended even stronger with the forecast for El Niño in the coming months, with the average of the statistical models showing a moderate event later this year and the average of the dynamical models showing a strong event,” says MDA senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley. “A moderate El Niño is still most likely during the summer months. El Niño summers feature above trend corn and soybean yields in the U.S., although there have been exceptions to that general rule.”

In general, El Niño means good crop yields in the Corn Belt, especially for soybeans. In the last 15 El Nino years, corn yields have been above trend in 8 of those years, while soybeans have surpassed trend in 11 years. Though the frequency is higher for above-trend soybean yields, the yield bump for corn is greater, according to MDA data. The last time El Nino was present in 2009, U.S. corn yields were more than 8% higher than trend, while soybeans were 5.6% higher than trend. And, that was a “weak” year. The last time a “moderate” El Niño was in place in 1972, average U.S. corn yields were almost 19% higher than trend.

But, the trend is not bulletproof. Case in point: The last time a “strong” El Niño was in place, in 1997, U.S. corn yields fell 2.2% lower than trend. In 1951, a week El Niño led to 11.4% subtrend corn yields. In 1953 — a weak El Niño year — soybean yields were just shy of 10% lower than trend.


Chart courtesy MDA Weather Services.

Based on conditions right now — some fields in near-perfect shape while others are “swamps” — a growing number of farmers say though general crop conditions are okay now, they may not stay that way for long, especially if wet, cooler-than-normal weather keeps up. And, a stronger El Niño system could provide exactly that. If the current start to the growing season is any indication, that could spell trouble for some areas where there are or will be a lot of corn and soybeans in the ground.

“There are not enough beans planted on that 150-mile stretch to keep a backyard flock chickens in protein through the winter,” southwest Iowa farmer and Marketing Talk advisor Hobbyfarmer says of an area stretching from southern Iowa to the Nebraska border where he recently traveled. “Big soybean yields out of June-planted fields that have been too wet all spring will be the exception. Saw lots of big center-fill planters just waiting for the chance to go a day or two too early and add compaction to the list of things that limited yields this year.”



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Better Drought Conditions Cause Pasture, Wheat Improvement

71_wheatharvest10-30-11The conclusion to draw from USDA’s first two weeks of range and pasture condition ratings appears to be “All is well”, unless you live in California or Nevada, which has big implications for the cattle herd, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.


In total, only 12 per cent of the nation’s range and pasture land was rated in poor or very poor condition as of last Sunday. That compares to 22 per cent one year ago and an average of 19.8 per cent for 2009-2013.

On the good end of the ratings, 57 per cent of acres were rated in good or excellent condition compared to only 46 per cent last year and a 5-year average of 53.2 per cent from 2009-2013.

The most important portion of that increase in pasture condition has occurred in the Southern Plains where conditions in west Texas and Oklahoma have improved dramatically this spring.

One year ago, over 40 per cent of the acres in  Texas and Oklahoma were in poor or very poor condition. This year that share stands at 11 and 10 per cent in the first two weeks of condition ratings.

This improvement carries major implications for the US beef sector. One year ago, 31.3 per cent of the nation’s total beef cow herd resided in states that had 40 per cent or more of their range/pasture acres rated in poor over very poor condition. This year that figure is 0.8%.

Last year, 54.6 per cent of the cow herd was in states with 40 per cent of more of their range/pasture acres in good or excellent condition. This year that number is 86.6 per cent.

Growing the cow herd requires two things at a minimum: Economic incentive and resource availability.

The economic incentive part has not been a problem for some time. Both calf and feeder cattle prices climbed from high to almost absurdly high last year and remain near those record-high levels.

Feed and hay prices have fallen over the past two years and the combination of those factors put cow-calf profits at record highs. The Livestock Marketing Information Center pegged them at $534 per cow in 2014 and estimates they will be over $470 per cow this year.

Ranchers have responded by holding heifers. But that process started in 2012 (after heifer retention hit its lowest level since 1951 (ie. 5.135 million on January 1) in 2011.

Many of the higher number of heifers held in 2012 and 2013, however, did not end up in the cow herd.

The Midwestern drought of 2012 and lingering dry conditions in the Southern Plains and West in 2013 pushed a good portion of those heifers intended for motherhood back into the fed cattle flow, keeping the beef cow herd on the decline through 2013.

It bottomed out in 2014 at 29.085 million head before growing 2 per cent to 29.693 million head in this year’s January Cattle (Inventory) report.

We fully expect a normal (or perhaps normal-plus) proportion of the 5.774 million heifers held as replacements this past January 1 (4.1 per cent more than one year earlier) to be added to the herd given these much-improved pasture conditions.

Unless of course the heat of Hades returns this summer. There is always an “on the other hand”, right?

A few other noteworthy items from this week’s Crop Progress report are:

  • Corn planting is now completed on 85 per cent of acres, up from 75 per cent last week and an average of 75 per cent over the past 5 years.   The “I” states (Iowa, Illinois and Indiana) that are critical to total production are all ahead of their 5-year paces with producers in Iowa and Illinois more than 90 per cent planted for corn.
  • Corn has emerged on 56 per cent of acres, a figure MUCH higher than last year’s 29 per cent and the 5-year average of 40 per cent.
  • Soybean planting is complete on 45 per cent of intended acres.  That is up from 31 per cent last week and comfortably ahead of the 5-year pace of 36 per cent.  Only Kansas (-14), Missouri (-11) and Nebraska (-10) trail their 5-year paces by any significant amount.
  • Soybean emergence (13 per cent) is right on track for mid-May.
  • Winter wheat condition remains significantly better than one year ago. 48 per cent of acres were rated as good or excellent this past week compared to just 29 per cent last year. Only 19 per cent was rated as poor or very poor where those two categories held 44 per cent of acres one year ago.  This is a direct reflection of the improved drought conditions in the Southern Plains – the same ones that have helped pasture/range conditions so dramatically.

US Range and Pastue Condition


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ElkIdaho’s Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo tags allow hunters to pursue world class big game in any open hunt in Idaho. Every year, 34 hunters win this special opportunity!

To win a Super Hunt tag, hunters need to enter the Super Hunt Drawings.

$6 for a single species           $20 for all 4 species

  • Super Hunt species include elk, deer, antelope and moose.
  • You do not need a hunting license to enter the Super Hunt Drawings.
  • If you draw, you will need purchase a license to participate in the hunt.
  • Enter as many times as you like.
  • Entry deadline for 1st drawing is May 31.
  • Entry deadline for 2nd drawing is August 10.

Enter Now!

There are several ways to enter the drawings.

  • Online with a credit card.
  • At license vendors with a credit card.
  • By phone 1-800-554-8685 with a credit card.
  • At Fish and Game offices with a check or debit card.
  • By mail, send a Super Hunt order form with a check.

Note: Telephone and online vendors add a convenience fee equal to three percent of the purchase plus $3.50.

Deadlines and Drawings

Idaho Super Hunt has two drawings.

First Drawing:

  • Deadline for entries is May 31st.
  • Eight elk, eight deer, eight pronghorn and one moose will be drawn.
  • One Super Hunt Combo will also be drawn. This winner is entitled to hunt all four species.
  • Winners will be notified by June 10.

Second Drawing:

  • Deadline for entries is August 10.
  • Two elk, two deer, two pronghorn and one moose hunt will be drawn.
  • One Super Hunt Combo will also be drawn.
  • Winners will be notified by August 15.

To read more on Idaho’s Fish and Game Website, click here


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Exports And Net Farm Income Up In Idaho

Dairy Farms    Idaho ag exports have basically doubled over a six year     span.  According to state export data released by USDA Economic Research Service, Idaho exports topped out at 2.59 billion dollars in 2013. Almost doubling since 2007.  Global economic growth and an expanding middle class, in Asia, are behind the record numbers. Idaho ag exports ranked 20th in the nation in 2013.

The states exports ranked fourth in dairy, fifth in both fresh and processed vegetables, sixth in wheat, 9th in beef and 10th in livestock.  And those export numbers are showing their weight in total Net Farm Income for the Gem State. Idaho currently ranked #2 in the west for net farm income in 2013. Idaho beat out Washington State for the number two spot, but still trails California by a huge margin.

In 2013 Idaho’s Net Farm Income came in at 3.11 billion dollars.  Washington was a close third, coming in at 3.01 billion. But California took the show coming in at a staggering 10.14 billion dollars in Net Farm Income in 2013.

The month of January in the Gem State has seen above average temperatures.  According to the National Resource Conservation Service January brought below–average moisture and spring like temperatures ranging from 3 to 7 degrees above the normal.
The high temperatures might be a good thing for residents, but the lack of snowfall could mean a disaster for local farmers. Idaho’s January precipitation ranged from 35 to 85 percent of normal.  Reservoirs like the Salmon Falls, Owyhee, Wild Horse, Magic and Oakley Basin are less than a quarter full.

Source:  Originally printed at
By Joey Martin
February 18, 2015

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Idaho Company Using Drones To Help Local Ag Community

dronesinfarmingAn Idaho company is one of the first in the nation allowed to fly drones… For-profit. Many companies are making money on the unmanned aircraft… But very few are legal. KBOI (Treasure Valley, Idaho) Eric Gonzales explains why a Treasure Valley man was given an exemption to let his company soar.

It’s an industry waiting to take off. Drones aren’t just a hobby anymore. Many companies are waiting for clearance to make money using unmanned aircraft systems. One company, whose owner lives in star was given the go ahead.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “We can actually conduct flights over your farm from the soil preparation phase to the harvest phase, and during the course of that growth crop cycle we can help find the stress points in the crop.”

Advanced Aviation Solutions is the only agricultural business in the U.S. allowed by the FAA to fly drones commercially. The owner believes the drone Ag industry, combined with cutting-edge technology, will be a multi-billion dollar business over the next fifteen years.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “There is a lot of science behind this too. This is not just, put a camera on an airplane and go out and fly around.”

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “Cotton’s been growing around here since before the Civil War.”

Brandon Moore is a farmer in Toney, Alabama. He hires dozens of workers to survey his crops. They’re checking for water, bug, weed and soil problems.

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “Using some of the unmanned aircraft would allow us to almost have real time information. We would be able to cover large acreage’s in just a fraction of the time. with the fraction of the people that it takes.”

But Moore isn’t legally allowed to use drones for his business. The government’s only allowing 24 companies to fly them – and nearly all of them are movie production businesses.

Advanced Aviation Solutions is the only company allowed to fly over Ag land. Advanced aviation solutions got the gig, in part because of the owner’s expertise in the cock pit.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “All of our guys are former military pilots, former commercial pilots, air traffic controllers. We’ve been in aviation all of our lives.”

Edgar flew the F-117 stealth fighter in combat. He also manned drones for the air force sitting at a command center in California while his aircraft was zoning in on targets in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a six to nine month application process with the FAA, he’s now in business. Snagging one of those exemptions, is nearly impossible.

So far the FAA has been giving exemptions but with strict rules to qualify for an exemptions. For example, a business that has a drone pilot has to have at least a private pilot’s license; two, a third class medical certificate And three. a separate observer to watch where the drone is going at all times.

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “To have some hoops to go through is a good thing but on the other hand to go through that is total unnecessary, when any 18 year old can go down to the local hobby shop and purchase one and be up and flying in the next hour or so.”

Moore says while his farm could save a lot of money on drones, a pilot’s license would be a costly investment. For the FAA it’s not just whether you can fly a drone, but more about safe operations in national airspace.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “But we are out there to do it the right way. We also know, as manned pilots the last thing I could ever say to somebody is, I am sorry if somebody was hurt or killed because an unmanned vehicle hit a manned vehicle.”

Originally printed at:

 By KMVT News

February 8, 2015


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Idaho lawmakers vote 5-4 to protect wild big game

ElkWILDLIFE — There’s good news and bad news this morning for big-game hunters and wildlife lovers from the 2015 Idaho Legislature:

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted today (February 24.2015) to reject a controversial rule change easing restrictions on importation of farmed elk into the state that brought warnings from state Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore of potential catastrophic impacts to Idaho’s wildlife herds.

The bad news:  The vote was only 5-4.

That means nearly half of the committee was willing to back a rule change sought by domestic elk ranchers at the risk of subjecting wild deer, elk and moose to a deadly parasitic worm.

Can a niche of agricultural interests have that much influence to threatened the entire Idaho hunting industry?

And what about big game in Montana and Washington, both of which could be subjected to meningeal worms if they were transmitted to Idaho game?

Apparently some parliamentary issues continue to dog this issue, so stay tuned.

And stay amazed that elected state lawmakers continue to undervalue the irreplaceable wildlife resources within Idaho borders.


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Idaho Real Estate Group Affiliated with Sports Afield Leads the Way for Niche Agents

Idaho Real Estate Group is now affiliated with Sports Afield Trophy Properties.

 Sports Afield acquired the assets of Cabela’s Trophy Properties (CTP), the real estate listing arm of Cabela’s, in early 2014. For ten years, CTP was the leading source for recreational property listings, with a network of experienced brokers who are agricultural and recreational real estate specialists who live, breathe, and understand the outdoors. By building and expanding on this solid platform, Sports Afield Trophy Properties provides the same excellence in property services that buyers and sellers alike experienced under the Cabela’s Trophy Properties brand.

Sports Afield is part of the outdoor heritage of the United States and part of the history of Cabela’s. Cabela’s got its start from an ad placed in Sports Afield by Dick Cabela in 1961,” said Tommy Millner, Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer. “They are perfectly situated to continue the success of Cabela’s Trophy Properties, which we are turning over to them to more fully focus on our core retail businesses.”

Sports Afield Trophy Properties participating brokers know the areas and territories they serve, including the wildlife species, climate, water sources, hunting and fishing opportunities, and other local conditions. SATP is supported by a broad-based marketing campaign, including an extensive, searchable Web site database, national advertising on television and in a wide variety of print media, a dedicated catalog, and syndication with numerous property-listings Web sites.

Sports Afield Trophy Properties is the ultimate source for the outdoor enthusiast’s recreational property needs. SATP is the largest exclusive network of recreational property experts specializing in hunting land, fishing properties, land auctions, farms and ranches, luxury estates, oceanfront and lake homes, timber tracts, and other recreational property for sale. The SATP network also includes recreational property experts who specialize in wildlife habitat development and lake management. SATP works with a network of experienced brokers to find top properties for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities and is supported by a searchable Web site database and syndication with numerous listing services to market properties for sale.   Our affiliates and independent brokers help sportsmen fulfill their greatest dreams!

* Sports Afield Trophy Properties

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IRG Marketing Advantages with Sports Afield Trophy Properties

Sports Afield magazine is the premier hunting adventure magazine in the country reaching more than 50,000 affluent readers with every issue. Every issue features a full-page Sports Afield Trophy Properties ad next to the Table of Contents, and every issue features a Special Sports Afield Trophy Properties Dedicated Advertising Section. This section is an excellent resource for the magazine’s upscale readership to discover the properties of their dreams.

Through the Sports Afield Trophy Properties platform, property listings are advertised on many web sites including: Lands of America, LandWatch, Open Fences, Land Report, Western Live- stock, Luxury Ranch, LandFlip, and others. Hundreds of secondary sites allow our brokers to enjoy an even greater reach in marketing top properties. For example, more than 2 million people visit every month.

The World of Sports Afield Television Show debuted in July 2011 with 13 episodes running during the third and fourth quarters (26 weeks) and is now in its fourth season. The series is produced by Safari Classics Productions and hosted by Aaron Neilson. Each week they travel to the finest hunting destinations around the globe in search of big-game adventure. The World of Sports Afield airs three times weekly on the Sportsman Channel. Available on DISH network, Direct TV, Verizon FIOS, AT&T U-Verse, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cablevision, and numerous other providers, the Sportsman Channel has a reach in excess of thirty-one million households. Sports Afield Trophy Properties Television Commercials air three times a week on the Sportsman Channel.

Safari Press, the largest publisher of hunting and firearms books in America, is under the same ownership as Sports Afield and Sports Afield Trophy Properties. Over 200,000 Safari Press catalogs are mailed several times a year to affluent households around the country—and Sports Afield Trophy Properties ads are featured in these catalogs.

Sports Afield Trophy Properties ads are also featured in The Land Report, Open Fences, Safari magazine, and many other publications, exposing our listings to a worldwide audience of affluent buyers.

* Sports Afield Trophy Properties

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Idaho Recreational Land – Idaho Fish and Game Website

I am impressed with and really like the site that the Idaho Fish and Game has built. I’ve grown up like many resident’s of Idaho waiting on the yearly books and then flipping through them, cross-referencing, and trying to navigate the many pages. Real Estate (especially Participating with Cabela’s Trophy Properties) has brought me to need more information, to need it faster, and to be able to share that with other people over long distances. I have found their website to be helpful.

A gentleman recently sent in an inquiry from over 700 miles away. He had found one of our properties (Crnich  Hunting Recreation Retreat in Southeastern Idaho) through one of the many land websites that we publish to. In his original inquiry he talked about his passion for hunting and his need to get a good aerial of the property to understand our listing. Here is an example of some of the information I was able to share because of the Idaho Fish and Game website:

“The first map shows that it is region 5 in Idaho. the property sits about where the green dot is. It would be in unit 74 but almost bordering unit 71.

“The second map shows first of all that it is bordering the BLM … The property is about where the green dot is. The yellow is BLM and you can see the Caribou NF marked.”


From these two maps, he was able to see where the property lies and its relationship to a several  hunting territories. The Idaho Fish and Game website could have easily gotten him all the hunt information from controlled hunt success rates, to the number of last years open hunt tags, and he could have even gotten his tags.

Another feature we can provide is how I am able to share basic aerial photos such as the one below in order to help clients get a better understanding of the properties and land they are asking about. All of this goes hand-in-hand with how I want to help clients get a decent pre-liminary feel before they drive hours to view a property. I think it is just one more step in a positive momentum moving forward.

Below are a couple of other links that might be worth your time if you need more information about hunting or fishing. I hope you can find them useful; especially if you are looking for that perfect piece of Idaho, close to hunting, fishing, or wherever your outdoor recreation will take you. P.S. The hunt planner and the fishing planner are also worth looking at:

Idaho Hunting

Idaho Fishing

Remember to check with Idaho Real Estate Group Participating with Cabela’s Trophy Properties for all your Idaho Farm, Ranch, or Recreational needs.

–Steve Atkinson

Idaho Real Estate Group

Participating with Cabela’s Trophy Properties

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Cabela’s Trophy Properties

We at Idaho Real Estate Group look forward to real growth and development in the next year. Recently, Mike and I traveled to Omaha, Nebraska in order to attend the annual Cabela’s Trophy Properties conference. We learned a lot about how we are going to be helping the land owners of Idaho, and we plan on growing with new agents, increasing our reach to customers, and achieving continual improvement to our niche of real estate. Here are just a few of the key things we experienced:

Quality of Expertise within the Network of Cabela’s Trophy Properties Participants:

It absolutely amazes me at how the network of agents participating with Cabela’s Trophy Properties works together.  Cabela’s Trophy Properties has created the atmosphere where businesses share information, agents collaborate, and achievement creates growth for everyone. Throughout the conference, we talked with agents from all over the nation to see how their markets were doing and what they have done in order to achieve success. We even share documents, marketing secrets, and strategies. What this means for you as a seller or buyer is: when you  work with us, you join a large network of agents who are more than willing to help one another out. Sellers are able to be handed to the agent who is most qualified for their area and buyers of this unique real estate can easily find who they are needing to work with. We all work together.

How We Size Up:

There is no doubt that we are the resource for your outdoor property. Since the creation of Cabela’s Trophy Properties, it has grown rapidly to overtake many of the regionally known brokerages. You will see it continue far beyond that, and you no longer have to settle for a real estate company who only reaches the next county or even the next state. The affiliation we carry brings with it a reputation and quality that is known on a national and international level. We trust in the name and believe in the value it will bring in selling your land and in finding you your next dream property.

What We Have that No One Else Does:

I think it is worth mentioning to all our clients that we achieve both broad and very specific success in marketing farm, ranch, and recreational real estate. For instance, did you know that Cabela’s Trophy Properties was the first to bring their agents onto Platinum status with This is just one of the features creating value and carrying that value forward as you find us in many of the top ranch, farm, and recreational we sites available. To really see where our marketing can take you, you should contact us and we would be happy to tell you how we can market your property better than any one else.

In short, we bring you true VALUE that no one else can. We know what we stand for, who we are a part of, and we are proud of it!

–Steve Atkinson

Agent/Manager of Business Development

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Letter to Idaho Owners

Idaho Real Estate Group just sent our a mailer to Eastern Idaho. It contains some good information and so we wanted to post it here on the web. Below you’ll find a copy of what information went out.

Dear Property Owner,

I’m Mike Atkinson. I serve Idaho as owner and licensed Associate Broker with Idaho Real Estate Group, a participant with Cabela’s Trophy Properties. Last year as Hayden Outdoors, Steve Atkinson and I reached out to Idaho property owners seeking to help those considering the sale of their land. Our company had success with these properties and we need more to meet demand, especially in the area of tillable land.

To give you a little information about us, in the last 8 years, Cabela’s Trophy Properties has become one of the leading worldwide real estate marketing firms for agricultural and recreational properties. We are proud of our affiliation and are excited to share with you our services for quality farms, ranches, luxury homes on acreage, and recreational real estate in 84% of Idaho! If you are interested in buying or selling any of these types of properties, give us a call so we can discuss your possibilities.

Since you own a property that may qualify to list with a Cabela’s Trophy Property Participant, we would like to present the potential opportunity for you to market and expose your property to an international audience of interested and qualified buyers. Due to our worldwide presence, our marketing techniques, and the appropriate pricing of the land, we provide specialized and one-of-a-kind services to connect you with buyers looking for properties similar to yours.

In our niche of real estate, it takes both local connections and nationwide exposure. To achieve this we embrace new marketing avenues and yet maintain timeless, tried and tested methods. We value local relationships while recognizing that 92% of out-of-town buyers search for property online, it is crucial to work with a company that has massive global Internet presence and local expertise. Here are just a few of the unique strategies that we have successfully employed to sell farms, ranches, luxury homes on acreage, and recreational real estate.


• Entry in the Most Visited Sites Online – Your property will be featured on the most visited ranch land and networking websites:,,,,,,,, Facebook,,,,,,,, and…just to name a few out of hundreds.

• Cabela’s Trophy Properties Website – Your property will be featured on this award winning website. Please visit us at

• Great Relationships, Satellite Mapping, and Multimedia – We constantly seek to work with the best and to network with qualified, honest, and straightforward connections. This improves the quality of your land sale. For mapping and multimedia, we understand the need to create an impressive experience for the out-of-town buyers. This requires quality photos, virtual tours, mapping, and even video where necessary.

• Auctions – If you seek a more aggressive selling strategy, we now provide you with auction services. We have teamed up with a premier auction service with nearly 100 years experience, with sells in 48 states and 5 countries. This auction company only works with premier and luxury properties, and that is why we have chosen to work with them.

We have much more to express than we can fit on this letter, and just like anything else that is done right, it takes some time to get your property exposed to the right people. If you plan on selling now or in the next 12 months, now is the time to get your property listed. We would like to meet with you to discuss how these cutting edge marketing services will get your property sold at the highest price possible and in the shortest period of time.

Please contact me at (208) 760-9349 or Steve Atkinson can be reached at (208) 766-3625 or We would be happy to send you our marketing plan and/or discuss your objectives.

We look forward to serving you and your family!

Mike Atkinson
Certified Land Consultant / Associate Broker / Owner
208-760-9349 (cell)

Steve Atkinson
General Manager / Land Specialist
(208) 766-3625 (cell)

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Howell Farm

We’ve got an excellent new property for sale of 1100 acres. We call it the Howell Farm. It is a great operation for farm or ranch with irrigated, dry farm, and range ground. It is nestled nicely 3 miles from the Utah / Idaho border and only 1.5 miles from an interstate 15 onramp.
Currently there are two wells and four pivots. You can see two of the pivots on here on our map search. The irrigated area totals at 600 +/- acres. The rest include about 300 of dry farm and 200 of range. This really is a great property for a great price.
Recreation is right out the back door with this property. Being so close to the BLM allows for big game hunting, upland birds, and quick equestrian use.
Keep an eye out for this property. You should see the details and the photos uploaded by tomorrow evening.

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Mapping Possibilities…

We realize that it often becomes frustrating when trying to find a property. Especially when you can’t really find the location of the land, how to open a file, or even to have a poor quality map. That is why we are working hard to provide you with quick and easy access to REALLY see your Idaho property before ever stepping foot on it. Try it out and let me know what you think. You can zoom in on a handful of our logos to view the real estate boundaries and if you click the logo, most will provide a picture & link to the property detail page. Now, granted, I don’t have every property we have listed for sale on there, but that is only because I couldn’t wait to share it. I will constantly be updating the list of ranches, farmsrecreational properties, as well as sold properties. As time goes on, it will increasingly become your source of finding the right land you were searching for. Check it out by clicking here and let me know if there is anything I can every do to increase your finding experience.

Steve Atkinson

General Manager / Land Specialist

Idaho Real Estate Group

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Great Value. Reduced $400,000!

Idahoans and those out of state should take a moment to look at the Wentworth Hunting Lodge. Located right outside of Swan Valley, Idaho and within reach of Palisades Reservoir and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, it is a unique hunting retreat for someone wanting privacy with quick access to the world famous Tetons or the South Fork of the Snake River.

When Mike and I went to this property to gather the information and pictures, I was impressed and kinda wished I could purchase that piece of real estate. For instance, after having visited, we jumped in his Jeep as he took us right from his driveway to a vehicle trail. We passed his skeet thrower, drove through both mountainside ground and tillable field, and right up to one of his three hunting blinds, built into the property! You can see it in one of the videos I took. It has great access to everything outdoors, but a lot is available from your back door. Being surrounded by 330 acres and in BLM territory, you can privatize your own hunting experience. Deer, moose, and elk frequent the property as you will also see from many of their pictures taken from within their house.

As far as the home and property go, it is located on a hill with excellent views and developed only in 2008. I love the open feel to the home with spacious rooms, ample storage, and amenities for each of the bedrooms. Everything from the tree lined grand entry to the kitchen, bedrooms, living room, master bath, deck and extra deep garage would make this a comfortable and impressive family or corporate retreat. None of that is to mention many of the small details throughout like sugar gum wood floors, log beams, and pristine landscaping.

Check it out and see what you think. I for one am proud to be able to provide this property. The only caveat is that you may have to invite me up once for a hunt.

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Selling your farm? Now may be a good time.

Real estate in Idaho has been good for those that are in the farming industry and now may be a good time to sell for a good price. Commodities have been high and good farm ground tends to sell quickly. That in turn has driven the prices up as well as the rarity of finding good land.

There are also some other factors to consider. First, according to the Farm Bureau, the current high land price scenario for farms may continue into this summer. Second, I was just checking from the USDA and the report for Jan 13th on Idaho premium hay was at an average of $250/ton, good is at $220, and fair at 200. That can make for a pretty good farming year. Third, from the Farm Bureau is that estate taxes may drastically change in the beginning of next year. It may be a great thing that your farmland will be worth a lot, but it may cost you hundreds of thousands just to keep the farm within the family. The estate tax relief would have disappeared this year if the congress hadn’t set the exemption at $5 million with a top tax rate of 35%. For the beginning of next year, that could change to $1 million and 55%. Now that is a huge difference.

So you may want to consider selling your farmland. I’m not saying that all will go downhill, but you can’t help but wonder if the farmland is also in a bubble just as the residential was a few years ago. To give you a fact about us…because of our participation with Cabela’s Trophy Properties, we do provide access to local, regional, and international buyers / agents. We do currently have buyers looking for great farm ground and some would prefer to lease it back to you after buying it with cash. I don’t pretend to hide anything; some are institutional buyers and we can provide you with examples and testimonials while others are just looking at increasing their assets. We have sold some great pieces recently and are looking for more. Give me or Mike a call at 208-766-5000 or contact us here. We’d be happy to work with you and explain what we have available.

Steve Atkinson

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Missing Something?

I am excited about this new website and I want your input. I am constantly working to give you a better online experience, but I also realize that sometimes the best ideas come from the customers. That is where you come in. I like being pretty straight forward and my goal is to always give improvements so that on you get the best viewing experience of farms, ranches, and recreational real estate. If you wish you had access to something new, have a great idea, or just want to comment about something you see and like, let me know. You can do so privately through the contact us form below or just post a comment. You can also request a sneak peak of our beta projects through the contact form.

Enjoy Browsing,

Steve Atkinson
Business Manager and Agent

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Who We Work With

The Idaho Real Estate Group participates with Cabela’s Trophy Properties to represent over 84% of Idaho. Idaho is truly a beautiful state with great territory ranging from mountain retreats to fertile farm land. We enjoy working with these farms, ranches, and recreational real estate and more especially to participate with Cabela’s Trophy Properties. As we look forward to always provide more value to our clients and customers, this becomes a unique and opportune value added. We are able to expose properties through traditional media and online venues on a local, regional, national, and even international level.

Enjoy our website and for a look at a more broad perspective, check us out at

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