Blue Flax Field

A field of blue flax grows on a farm owned by Delbert and June Winterfeld on the Pine Creek Bench near Swan Valley. Some 160 acres of their property has been protected from development through a conservation easement with the Bureau of Land Management.

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SWAN VALLEY — Each summer on the Pine Creek Bench near Swan Valley, Delbert and June Winterfeld’s fields are filled with native grasses and wildflowers.

With help from the Teton Regional Land Trust and Bureau of Land Management, the Winterfelds have protected 160 acres of their farm ground through a conservation easement finalized last week.

The easement will help ensure the land is protected from development, allowing their native seed operation to continue there.

The Winterfeld’s Cedera Seed grows upland grasses and flower seed used to restore lands across the region to their native vegetation. The property provides habitat for sharp tailed grouse throughout the year and for migrating big game as they travel to and from their winter range grounds.

“We’re doing this because we never wanted our land to be developed,” June Winterfeld said in a news release. “We hope we can encourage our neighbors to do the same thing.”

Landowners like them have worked with the BLM, The Conservation Fund, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Teton Land Trust over the past 21years to permanently protect more than 46 percent of the private land on the bench overlooking the South Fork of the Snake River.

The Winterfeld’s private property remains in their name and the conservation easement will be held by the BLM. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that allows for farming and ranching on the property but permanently restricts the type and amount of future development that can occur on the property.