Preserve Details

Acres Protected

Through a partnership with the Howard family, the City of Bellevue, and the Friends of the Howard Preserve, Wood River Land Trust protected 12.5 acres of Big Wood River floodplain in very close proximity to the City of Bellevue. The Howard family had owned the property since 1972, and with the desire to protect the property for the long-term as their focus, the partners worked together to secure grant funding and a conservation easement, which now protects the property in perpetuity.

Opportunities to increase the size of an urban preserve are rare, so the Land Trust was pleased to have the chance to do so in 2012 with a 1.38-acre land acquisition at the southern end of the Preserve.At just over an acre in size, the Preserve extension provides protection for additional Big Wood River floodplain.

The Howard Preserve continues to be a place that blends wildlife values, safe public access to the Big Wood River, and opportunities for education and community involvement with the land.

This preserve has a passport!


History Image

In a collaborative effort between the Howard family, the City of Bellevue, and the Friends of the Howard Preserve, the Wood River Land Trust (WRLT) successfully safeguarded 12.5 acres of precious Big Wood River floodplain, nestled closely to Bellevue. Since 1972, the Howard family had stewarded this land, nurturing a vision of long-term preservation. Through concerted efforts, including securing grant funding and establishing a conservation easement, this parcel is now perpetually protected.

In 2012, an opportunity arose to expand the urban sanctuary with the acquisition of 1.38 acres at the southern boundary of the Preserve, further fortifying the buffer against encroachment into the Big Wood River floodplain.

In 2017, WRLT and the City of Bellevue secured a vital grant from the Blaine County Land, Water & Wildlife Program worth $174,600. This funding facilitated the acquisition of five lots totaling 1.38 acres within the Howard Preserve. Preventing the development of these lots was crucial, as it would have posed a significant threat to the conservation integrity of the surrounding area. As part of this initiative, Bellevue relinquished existing rights-of-way and incorporated additional riverfront land into the Preserve. The entire 36-acre expanse was then encased in a conservation easement, ensuring its perpetual protection.

These milestones—marked by the 2012 acquisition of the Harris Property and the 2017 acquisition of the Halverson and Gardner lots, along with additional City-owned land—underscore the ongoing commitment to preserve the Howard Preserve. This sanctuary remains a harmonious blend of wildlife habitat, public access to the Big Wood River, and opportunities for education and community engagement with the natural world.


Wildlife Image

Visitors to Howard Preserve are treated to a diverse array of wildlife, offering glimpses into the natural wonders of the area. Among the ancient trees and along the winding riverbanks, sightings of majestic bald eagles soaring overhead are common, while the rustle of squirrels and the rhythmic tapping of woodpeckers provide a lively soundtrack to the forest. As the sun sets, the haunting calls of owls echo through the trees, adding an air of mystery to the surroundings. And for the observant visitor, the chance to witness the remarkable sight of a turkey vulture rookery, a nesting haven high above, serves as a poignant reminder of the preserve's role in providing sanctuary for all its inhabitants, including the graceful deer that roam its tranquil paths.


Preservation Image

The preservation of Howard Preserve stands as a crucial endeavor, woven into the fabric of both environmental conservation and community sustainability. Situated amidst a network of walkable Big Wood areas, its preservation not only safeguards vital wildlife habitats but also fosters connectivity within the broader ecosystem. Moreover, as an integral component of the irrigation infrastructure delivering water to the Bellevue triangle, its protection ensures the continued sustenance of agricultural endeavors and local livelihoods. Recognizing its significance, the Wood River Land Trust (WRLT), Trout Unlimited (TU), and the irrigation company have joined forces to restore the dam and diversion structures, enabling the passage of fish and promoting the health of aquatic ecosystems. By preserving Howard Preserve, we uphold a delicate balance between ecological integrity, recreational enjoyment, and the sustainable management of vital resources for generations to come.


Recreation Image

Explore a diverse range of outdoor experiences at Howard Preserve – a haven of adventure and tranquility waiting to be discovered. Lace up your hiking boots or saddle up for an exhilarating biking journey, meandering through enchanting trails that guide you through lush meadows, ancient groves, and alongside the serene stream. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of nature that revitalizes your senses and nourishes your spirit.

For those drawn to the water's allure, indulge in a spot of fishing along the preserve's pristine waterways. Fishing enthusiasts will find solace in the gentle currents, where each cast offers an opportunity to connect with the aquatic world. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice eager to embrace the excitement, Howard Preserve welcomes all, fostering a deep bond with the river's rhythm.

Elevate your passion for birdwatching as the preserve reveals its avian wonders. Armed with binoculars, unlock a world of fluttering wings and melodious melodies. From majestic raptors gracefully soaring above to the vibrant symphony of songbirds concealed among the foliage, every step uncovers a new chapter in the captivating story of the preserve's feathered inhabitants.

Ethical Land Use

We thrive as a community united by a deep respect for both nature and one another. Our shared commitment to preserving this precious landscape is what makes our sanctuary truly exceptional. Here's how we embrace these values in our conduct:

Mindful Pet Ownership

While dogs are welcome companions, kindly clean up after them to protect water quality. Keep your furry friends under voice control, ensuring a peaceful coexistence with both other visitors and the local wildlife.

Warm Gestures

A simple smile and wave can go a long way in fostering a sense of camaraderie. Greeting fellow explorers with kindness creates an atmosphere of unity and appreciation.

Heightened Awareness

As you traverse the trails, stay mindful of your surroundings. By respecting the natural habitat and its inhabitants, we create an environment where both humans and wildlife can thrive in harmony.

Nature's Call

Please note that there are no restroom facilities within the Preserve. Be prepared and plan accordingly for your outdoor adventure.

Respecting Our Home

What We Leave Behind

We believe that by upholding certain restrictions, we ensure the longevity and well-being of our Preserve

No Motorized Vehicles

To preserve the tranquility of our haven, we ask that motorcycles and ATVs remain outside the Preserve.

Preserving Wildlife

Hunting, harassing wildlife, or any activity that disrupts their natural behaviors is strictly prohibited.

Leave No Trace

Overnight camping, fires, and fireworks are not allowed. Let's cherish the untouched beauty of the Preserve for all to enjoy.

Smoke-Free Zone

For the safety of the environment and all visitors, smoking and open flames are not permitted.

Stay on the Path

To protect the delicate ecosystems, please refrain from creating new trails. Stick to designated paths to minimize our impact.

In essence, this Preserve isn't just a place to visit; it's a testament to the bonds we form with the land and with each other. By embracing these practices, we cultivate an atmosphere of harmony, shared responsibility, and a deep appreciation for the wonders that surround us. So join us in nurturing this extraordinary environment, and let's continue to write the story of our Preserve together.

Photo Opportunities

Howard Preserve Foot 


Muñoz Memorial Bench

Deckard Memorial Bench

Future Plans

The 2017 addition to Howard Preserve marks an exciting opportunity for future restoration efforts, with the potential to enhance the ecological vitality of the sanctuary. While concrete plans have yet to be solidified, the newfound sections of the preserve offer promising prospects for rejuvenation. Through careful stewardship and collaboration, there exists the vision to restore these areas to their natural splendor, fostering biodiversity and preserving critical habitats. With each step forward, we embrace the challenge of safeguarding this precious landscape, ensuring its resilience and beauty for generations to come.

Restoration Projects:

Currently, ongoing restoration efforts at Howard Preserve are focused on essential tasks such as weed control and land maintenance. These endeavors play a vital role in nurturing the health and resilience of the ecosystem, ensuring that native flora can thrive and invasive species are kept in check. By meticulously tending to the land, we uphold our commitment to preserving the natural integrity of this cherished sanctuary, creating a haven where wildlife can flourish and visitors can connect with the beauty of the natural world.


Getting There

The Howard Preserve is located at 85 Martin Lane in Bellevue. To get there from downtown Hailey, head south on Main Street/Highway 75 for 4.7 miles. Take a right on Broadford Road followed by an immediate left onto Martin Lane. Follow Martin Lane past the big open parking lot to the small dirt parking lot at the end of the road. Keep an eye out for the signs directing you to the parking area!