FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Conservation easement protects working ranch and wildlife habitat
Conservation Northwest today completed the purchase of a conservation easement for 303 acres of the Gotham ranch in the Kettle Range Mountains, committing these acres to continued agriculture, open space, and wildlife habitat by retiring rights to develop residential or mineral values.
Republic — Conservation Northwest today completed the purchase of a conservation easement for 303 acres of productive ranch and timberlands east of Republic in the Kettle Range Mountains. The acreage is part of Bryan and Deb Gotham’s 2,200 acre family ranch. The affected acreage is just west of the Colville National Forest boundary along Highway 20, not far from Sherman Pass. This transaction permanently commits these acres to continued agriculture, open space, and wildlife habitat by retiring rights to develop residential or mineral values.
Bryan and Deb Gotham said, "Our dream is for generations of our family to raise cattle, horses, and timber in this beautiful country. Selling the development rights helps us today without compromising our dream for the future. We're very happy about it."
The easement was purchased entirely with private dollars raised by the non-profit wildlife conservation organization Conservation Northwest. The easement will soon be reassigned to the Okanogan Land Trust, based in Tonasket, which works to protect open space and working lands in eastern Okanogan and western Ferry Counties. Walter Henze, OLT board member, said, "We're proud to partner with the Gothams to help protect this area's heritage. We are also excited to have another project in Ferry County, and hope we can do more work here in the future."
Conservation Northwest and Okanogan Land Trust are also partnering with the Gothams on an application to the Forest Legacy Program administered by the state Dept. of Natural Resources. This application was one of the top three in the state, moving it forward to compete nationally for federal funds that would allow the purchase of a working forest easement on most of the rest of the Gotham property. Conservation Northwest also has an option for the purchase of an easement on additional Gotham acres.
This effort is part of Conservation Northwest’s program to collaboratively protect wildlife habitat on public and private lands in northeast Washington. Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest’s executive director, said, "The Gotham Ranch is providing beef, timber, and livelihoods in a way that is compatible with the needs of wolverine, lynx, and other wildlife. Nestled right up against the Kettle Crest and the potential wilderness lands there, this represents a great balance that I think a lot of people can get behind."