Collaboration thrives at Rock Creek Ranch

Rock Creek Ranch embraces 10,400 acres of land in a series of succulent meadows surrounded by miles upon miles of good-quality rangeland below the shadow of the Smoky Mountains in Blaine County.

The ranch is home to sage grouse, a species of concern, as well as moose, elk, deer, antelope and other critters.

Because of its dual qualities as a working ranch with strong conservation values, Rock Creek Ranch was purchased recently from the Rinker Family by the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy in a unique partnership with the University of Idaho. The deal was brokered by Trent Jones of Hall and Hall.  Read the full story here.

Rock Creek Conservation Land Sale an Honor for Hall and Hall

By: Trent Jones

Through the commitment, vision and hard work of the conservation partnership — Wood River Land Trust, Nature Conservancy, and Natural Resources Conservation Service — and the willingness of the Rinker family to stay engaged in an incredibly “process-heavy” transaction, Hall and Hall was able complete the “needle moving” conservation land sale of Rock Creek Ranch on the door step of Sun Valley, ID to protect 10,400 acres in the southern Wood River Valley for public access under a conservation easement .

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As significant as Rock Creek is, however, it was made possible in large part through funding from the NRCS’s Grasslands Reserve Program which has had a little known, but game changing, impact on landscape scale habitat and open space protection in the this part of the world.  Driven by sage grouse protection, the NRCS has directed 50% of all national GRP funds to Idaho, and of that, 70% has come to Blaine County (of which Sun Valley is a part).  This underscores the quality of our sage-steppe habitat as well as the sincere commitment from ranchers and other landowners to conserve sage grouse and other sage dependent wildlife.

This Rock Creek Ranch sale a classic Hall and Hall transaction. One, we have the technical expertise and knowledge to be to advise our clients accordingly and work through a complex, multi-layered process.  Two, as an organization, one of our stated goals is the preservation of the western landscape and culture.  We walk the talk like no other company in our industry when it comes to this mission.  All one has to do is look at the track record of conservation deals we’ve been involved with (hundreds of thousand of acres across the region, and Stoney and I alone have been involved deals resulting in the protection of tens of thousands), the type of buyer we’re committed to representing (typically those with an interest in preserving the best of the West), and the commitment our partners have individually to wildlife, open space, and family farming and ranching.

Stoney is on the national Trout Unlimited board and grew up on a ranch in NE. I’m president of the Wood River Land Trust board. Jim Taylor is on the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Bill McDavid worked for the Crow Tribe. Keith Lenard until recently was on the national board of the American Land Conservancy.  Keith and I also had successful careers in the non-profit conservation field prior to joining Hall and Hall.

Overall, I feel really privileged to have been part of this project and proud that Hall and Hall was able to play a significant role in protecting an incredible resource so close to Sun Valley.

 From left to right: Trent Jones, Wood River Land Trust president and a partner with Hall and Hall real estate; Stennett; Boettger; Lou Lunte, associate state director for TNC; Lisa Eller, communications director for TNC; Trey Spaulding, director of operations for WRLT; Keri York, director of conservation for WRLT.

From left to right: Trent Jones, Wood River Land Trust president and a partner with Hall and Hall real estate;  Idaho Senator Michelle Stennett;  Scott Boettger, executive director of WRLT; Lou Lunte, associate state director for TNC; Lisa Eller, communications director for TNC; Trey Spaulding, director of operations for WRLT; Keri York, director of conservation for WRLT.

 

 

 

Salmonfly Fishing on Montana’s Rock Creek

By: Keith Lenard

It’s June 1st and like clockwork, I’m dialing up friends and filling the cooler with Kettle House Double Haul IPA, Missoula’s finest local brew, in preparation for what’s sure to be an amazing day of the most epic dry fly hatch on Western Montana’s finest trout river, Rock Creek.

In the end, it’s just Mike and I as we couldn’t fill the third seat in the boat. We like it like this. It creates a more intimate fishing situation, with the rower focused solely on the needs of a single fisherman, and that single fisherman joyously free of concern about the casting that would come from the back of the boat.

We are on the water by 10:30 with just a few of the big bugs flying. Pteronarcys californica, or otherwise known as the Western Salmonfly, is reputed by some sources to be the largest aquatic insect in the world. We couldn’t care less about the taxonomy of these impressive bugs: what we know is that fish go nuts for them and their arrival each June is like a national holiday for us. Schools close.  Grown men leave their spouses. The stores run out of beer. Within five minutes, I’ve hooked into a fat 15-inch cut-bow and the fishing rodeo begins.

Western fly anglers often go ga-ga over salmonflies, and for good reason.

Fishing salmonflies on Rock Creek is unlike any other kind of fishing I’ve ever done.  The river moves fast,  3-4 mph, and often the holding water for foraging fish is micro compared to other seasons and rivers.  Throwing less than twenty feet of line with precision and aggression is what it is all about. Heavy tippets and giant artificial flies let you slap those bugs down on the water for drifts that seldom last more than three or four seconds, pull the fly up and repeat.  When the fish are really keyed into this smorgasbord, you’ll get a strike every two to three casts – tail-slapping, body-slamming, out-of-the-water takes that will leave the ardent fly fisherman drooling for more. Fifty fish days are not uncommon when the conditions are right, and by 1:00 in the afternoon, they are.

Montana’s salmonfly hatch fuels great fishing, and even greater stories.

Massive squadrons of these helicopter-like bugs were coming off. As the sun bent into the west and the tall fir-lined banks slipped into shadow, you could see the big bugs and all their little cousins (grey drakes, miscellaneous caddis, blue-wing olives and a host of others) back-lit against the Montana sky.  It’s at times like this that I know why I have come to Montana.  The sheer explosion of spring life is something to behold.  Scarlet tanagers and bank swallows are rifling the air scooping up meals, below the fish impale themselves on our hooks, and in between the sky and water, we drift along and open another Double Haul.

Side note: We recently listed Rock Creek Fishing Ranch, 99 acres fronting directly on the creek. There is a lush, sub-irrigated meadow with a fully restored and historic log cabin ready for use. Wildlife populations include elk, deer, mountain lion and bear. The ranch also shares boundaries with a large block of public lands giving the owner direct access to thousands more acres for recreation.

Rock Creek is one of the most sought out fishing locations in Montana.