Protecting Working Lands and Open Space

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Idaho Smart Growth works to empower communities to affect local decisions regarding land use and agriculture by creating more tools and incentives to protect farms, ranches, and open space in Idaho.

In 2008, Idaho Smart Growth helped write and edit the Ada County Open Space Task Force Report which resulted in the designation of $500,000 towards open space protection. Idaho Smart Growth, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, and Idaho Conservation League partnered to ask communities about their priorities for open space in our Heart of Our Valley project.

Idaho Smart Growth partners with Idaho communities to create new tools to protect open space and farms and ranches. In 2008, we helped pass Idaho’s first county-wide open space property tax levy in Blaine County.

Between 2002 and 2007, the Idaho lost almost 300,000 acres of farmland. According to the American Farmland Trust, “[l]ow-density development has more than five million acres of the state’s best ranchland in peril. These ranchlands represent natural resources that could completely disappear by 2020, greatly impacting the ecological, economic and cultural fabric of local communities.” These lands contribute more than $5 billion a year to Idaho’s economy.

To respond to this threat, groups including sportsmen, wildlife, environmental, and industry organizations, several land trusts, and individual property owners formed the Working Lands Coalition. The Coalition seeks to preserve working farms, ranches, and forests for the economic, habitat, and other quality of life values they provide to our state.

For more information about this program, contact Rachel Winer at

To learn more about the Coalition, the challenges facing those who own and work the land, and the many public values these working lands provide all Idahoans visit the website:

To stay informed and get more involved please sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletter, or email with a request to join the email list.

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