A view of the Teton Range in the distance is seen from the Maytag-Teton Timber property on the north end of the Big Hole Range recently. The private land, slated for subdivisions, was acquired by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Congress’ recently passed Land and Water Conservation Fund is already providing benefits for eastern Idaho with a recent land acquisition.

A large private inholding surrounded by public land in the Big Hole Mountains near Pack Saddle Lake has been acquired by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest with a price tag of $3,820,000.

The 960-acre plot called the Maytag-Teton Timbers property was slated for subdivisions at one point and has been “a top Forest Service priority for protection” for several years. With the land now a part of the Caribou-Targhee, recreators no longer need worry about trespass issues, and the Forest Service sees the acquisition as a benefit to fish and wildlife.

“Protection of these critical riparian areas and headwaters stretches will ensure high-quality water flows from the upper reaches of Pack Saddle and Horseshoe Creeks to their confluence with the Teton River, a world class, blue ribbon trout fishery,” said Mel Bolling, Caribou-Targhee National Forest supervisor.

The property went up for sale in 2017 and The Conservation Fund working with Beartooth Group and aided by the Teton Regional Land Trust bought the land in April 2020. The Conservation Fund held the land until the Forest Service was able to buy it with federal funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“The Maytag-Teton Timbers property is a prime example of (Land and Water Conservation Fund) working in a collaborative way,” said Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson. “Engaging with the local community and ensuring their needs were met, was critical to the success of this project. I applaud the U.S. Forest Service and all the partners involved, for working diligently to accomplish this great project. When the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law last month, I said this bill is for future generations. The Maytag-Teton Timbers property will achieve this goal by opening up public access for Idahoans for centuries to come.”

Sarah Wheeler, a Forest Service spokeswoman, said the Maytag-Teton Timbers property was set up to be developed into home owner parcels.

“People would have these beautiful acre parcels with that gorgeous view of the Tetons,” she said, “Those lots would have probably sold very quickly with homes.”

The acquisition conserves open space, protects habitat from future development, mitigates wildfire risk and protects clean water for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people, the Forest Service said. This parcel includes stretches of Porcupine, Irene, Brown Bear and Hillman creeks, as well as the upper reaches of Pack Saddle and Horseshoe creeks.

“Partnerships and collaboration go a long way in making these important conservation projects viable,” said Mark Elsbree, Western director and senior vice president at The Conservation Fund. “Securing the Maytag property for a community that highly values its public lands for wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities will have a lasting positive impact.”