POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — An anonymous landowner donated 0.26 square miles (0.67 square kilometers) of mule deer winter range in Pocatello to a local land trust.
The donation to the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust ended previous plans of converting the property into a subdivision, the Idaho State Journal reported .
The property represents the southern portion of roughly 0.62 square miles (1.61 square kilometers) the city annexed more than 10 years ago, in preparation for a proposed 900-unit residential and commercial development.
“The Land Trust hopes to continue to work in this landscape to create a buffer between core winter range and residential and commercial development,” said Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust Director Matt Lucia.
Lucia said the property lies amid a large swath of Bureau of Land Management property. He said it’s crucial for the winter survival of mule deer because it harbors healthy sagebrush stands and patches of juniper to provide them cover.
“What sportsmen and women and conservationists should be thrilled about is the fact that this core winter range is going to be buffered by this project, and that’s huge,” Lucia said.
The land was donated to the trust on Dec. 26.