Cedar Springs Ranch conserves for the future

July 18, 2017

Cedar Springs Ranch: from pristine wilderness, to a 1930s dance hall, to a rustic ski hill, to a homestead. But most importantly, never a sprawling housing development or sea of stumps, now or in the future. With the Cedar Springs Conservation Easement, Inland Northwest Land Conservancy is thrilled to announce the forever protection of the Cedar Springs Ranch. This stunning 160-acre heavily forested property just six miles northeast of Harrison, ID is a vital water resource. On Thompson Creek, which flows into Thompson Lake (one of the chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene River), it contributes to the Thompson Lake Wildlife Refuge watershed. The new conservation easement protects over two miles of Thompson Creek and its tributaries. Cedar Springs Ranch is, and will now remain, prime habitat for its abundant wildlife. In owner Ellen Cantor’s words, “The land is never silent!”

Thanks goes to the Idaho Department of Lands which, with funding from the Forest Legacy program, helped defray some of the costs of creating the Cedar Springs conservation easement.

Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, along with devoted land steward Ellen Cantor, hopes that creating the Cedar Springs Easement will encourage other people, including neighbors, to obtain conservation easements. The great news is that they’re already interested!

Meadow and forest at Cedar Springs Ranch

About the land:

Cedar Springs Ranch is primarily a mixed-conifer forest, with some meadows and old fields. It has views of both Emerald Butte in the St. Joe National Forest and Graham Mountain in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.

In addition to being a crucial water resource—with not only streams, but several small ponds that hold water at various times of the year, as well as numerous wet areas—it is very diverse in tree species, understory vegetation, wildlife species, and even multiple mushroom species.

According to forester Julie Kincheloe of Heirloom Forestry, due to its variety of growing sites and excellent soil and moisture diversity, the Cedar Springs Ranch can support all of the major timber species in our region. Trees include grand, Douglas, and white fir; western hemlock; ponderosa, western white, and lodge pole pine; western red cedar; and western larch, as well as some Engelmann spruce, birch, pacific yew, aspen, cottonwood, willow, maple, and alder. Other plant life includes ninebark, oceanspray, snowberry, maple, cottonwood, alder, red-osier dogwood, bracken fern, serviceberry, rose, elderberry, various forbs, Oregon grape, sedges, lady fern, sword fern, and numerous grass species.

The wildlife is equally abundant and diverse, beginning with cougar, black bear, deer, elk, moose, and small mammals. There is a particularly huge variety of birds, such as Goshawks; Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and Swainson’s Hawks; Great Horned Owls; Lazuli Buntings; Red-breasted Nuthatches; Kinglet; Chickadee; Swainson’s, Hermit, and Varied thrush; Yellow, Orange-crowned, and MacGillivray’s warblers; jays; flickers; and woodpeckers. There are even newly hatched trout in the streams.

About the landowner:

Easement donor Ellen Cantor

Ellen arrived from the east coast via northern California in 1971. Friends guided her to this amazing piece of solitude. She immediately purchased it. In addition to a dilapidated farm house, the property contained tow-rope remnants of a ski hill (including a one-room ski “lodge” with an old menu tacked to the wall, advertising five-cent soup), extensive gardens, fruit trees, and a crumbling log chicken coop. Ellen and her friends immediately set to work making the farm house livable, and then raised vegetables, pears, apples, plums, and nuts… and her children, Belle and Will. The family traipsed a half mile –often through snow—to catch the school bus to Harrison. Although, after nearly twenty years at Cedar Springs Ranch, no family members currently live there, they have passed on their affection for this unspoiled land to Ellen’s granddaughter, who insisted on including a map of Cedar Springs Ranch in her photo.

Granddaughter Nele proudly showing off maps

In fact, Ellen did a lot more than “just” raise her family at Cedar Springs Ranch. From the moment she purchased it, she has consistently worked to preserve the health of the forest. As the 2016 Forest Stewardship Plan attests, “The landowner has done a wonderful job of maintaining the soil, water, and timber resources on the property by monitoring the trees for mortality and timely and low-impact harvest over the years.”

To learn more about Ellen, see “In Ellen’s Words.”