KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has expanded the Sawtooth National Forest through the acquisition of a ranch in central Idaho.

The federal agency last month purchased 368 acres of the Goat Falls Ranch, which is adjacent to the forest and southwest of the town of Stanley, the Idaho Mountain Express reported Friday.

"The purchase by the United States will allow this property to remain undeveloped so we can enhance the scenic properties of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area," Ranger Kirk Flannigan said.

The property contains mostly pasture land, but it does have some wetlands and lodgepole pine forest areas, Flannigan said. Part of the ranch remains privately owned.

The property was acquired through a partnership with the Western Rivers Conservancy, which purchased the ranch in February 2017, the agency said.

After first buying the property, the organization worked with landowners, the Custer Soil and Water Conservation District and the Idaho Department of Water Resources to convey the ranch's water rights to the state Water Resource Board so the water could be used for fisheries conservation.

Meadow Creek, a habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, runs through the property.

"Conserving Goat Falls Ranch is a win for fish and agriculture alike," said Sue Doroff, president of the organization. "The project strikes the perfect balance, and we hope it serves as a model for the future."

The ranch's acquisition will allow for restoration work in creek.

The agency's land purchase was funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The federal agency has no immediate plans to allow livestock grazing at the site, Flannigan said.


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