By Mike McKenna
One of the last remaining undeveloped parcels in Ketchum has recently been officially preserved as open space and wildlife habitat for generations to come.
Thanks to the generosity of the James and Barbara Cimino Foundation, nearly 10 acres of valuable pasture, forest and riparian areas along Warm Springs Creek, adjacent to Ketchum city limits and U.S. Forest Service lands, has been placed under a conservation easement.
“It’s a gorgeous place and an important wildlife corridor,” David Cimino said about the property his family has owned for over 40 years. “We wanted to make sure the land stayed undeveloped.”
The property was once owned by the famous Sun Valley physician, Dr. Moritz. In 1975, the good doctor was getting older and wanted to sell the property, but the only interested buyers were developers who wanted to build 42 units on the property. That’s when David’s father, the late Jim Cimino, stepped in to help out. He bought the property and promised Dr. Moritz it would never be developed.
Thanks to David and his siblings, with some help and guidance from the Wood River Land Trust staff, that promise is now forever guaranteed. The property will remain free of development and open to agricultural uses and wildlife habitat in perpetuity.
“It was very important to my dad that we save this land. It’s a breathtaking spot that most people don’t even know exists, but the animals sure do,” David said, explaining that he regularly sees elk, deer, moose, black bears, raccoons, all kinds of birds and even the occasional bobcat on the property.
“You’ve got to be extremely creative to make something like this happen and the Land Trust was very helpful,” David said. “You have to take some of the financial incentives off the property and then you can see it for what it really is. It’s an opportunity to counteract some of the negative impacts that have happened here like cutting down trees and over-development,”
Historically used as a horse pasture, the Warm Springs easement will continue to be used for equestrian purposes and therefore is not open for public access. There are also goals to team up with local 4-H Club to use the property to help teach children about the importance of stewardship of the land.