Cedar Mountain Forest easement protects forests, water, and habitat

May 31, 2016

Imagine a woodsy haven nestled in the foothills of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, where the mountains meet the plains of the Rathdrum Prairie. Cool shaded streams harbor native trout, host songbirds and woodpeckers, and replenish the great Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. The Cedar Mountain Forest is home, too, to Kirk and Madeline David.

On December 15, 2015 Kirk and Madeline granted a conservation easement to INLC on their 155 acres in the hills east of Highway 95 in northern Idaho. They still own the land, but they and INLC have shielded it from unwanted development. If you’ve been on Silverwood Theme Park’s “Timber Terror” or “Panic Plunge” and looked (longingly) east toward solid ground, you saw Cedar Mountain rising from the plains. Its forests, streams and meadows serve as prime habitat for Idaho’s wildlife, and as corridors and conduits for them. Protecting these lands meets several Kootenai County comprehensive plan goals for productive forests, minimizing sprawl, protecting surface water and groundwater, and conserving wildlife habitat.

Kirk David bought the heart of the property in 1980, and set about building a log home and tending the forest. Over the years, Kirk and Madeline have been heavily involved in the Idaho Forest Owners Association, the Idaho Tree Farm Program, state forest stewardship committee, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Society of American Foresters, and other groups. On their own land, they have thinned overcrowded stands to make room for healthier growth, planted seedlings, upgraded a network of woods trails, and harvested timber from time to time, in keeping with their Forest Stewardship Plan.

Kirk and Madeline want to protect their property for many reasons. They want to practice sound, long term forest management; to promote aesthetic values of peace, serenity and beauty; to protect the forest resource from insect, disease and fire hazards; to gain a positive return on their investments in the forest; and to encourage wildlife use by maintaining and enhancing suitable wildlife habitat. Their land includes seeps, springs, ponds, and a wallow enjoyed by elk, deer, moose, bear, bobcat, and many other creatures. Three creeks run for nearly a mile through their land. The list of plants, birds, and other wildlife on the Cedar Mountain Forest is long. Perhaps most remarkable is the abundance of western red cedar trees.

The Davids have led many “Ties to the Land” succession planning workshops for hundreds of other forest owners, sometimes in tandem with INLC. These workshops enable people to decide on the future of their land and their ownership. In 2015 the Davids put these ideas into practice. They want to ensure that the land they care for can never be split into 5-acre lots which would fragment the wildlife habitat. Their conservation easement designates a homestead area around their house and keeps the entirety of the property intact as forests and open spaces. Kirk and Madeline hope to inspire their neighbors in the Bayview to Hayden area to conserve their working forest lands too!