The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently accepted a 795-acre parcel of important wildlife habitat in the Hailey area donated by long-time Wood River Valley resident and developer Harry Rinker.
Rinker said his goal is to protect it for wildlife, the people of the Wood River Valley, and all Idahoans to enjoy.
“I’m a strong advocate for wildlife,” Rinker said. “It’s such a beautiful wildlife area and so scenic. We want to preserve it for people to hike through and enjoy as we did.”
Rinker said he decided to donate the property last summer. He has owned the “Timber Gulch” property for more than 30 years, which is north of Hailey and west of Idaho 75 near Greenhorn Road.
Rinker said in years past, he leased the Timber Gulch parcel for grazing, but otherwise left it wild and planted numerous spruce trees to enhance its habitat and scenery.
“We greatly appreciate Mr. Rinker’s donation of this important piece of property,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “We will continue to manage it with wildlife habitat as our priority, but also to provide public recreation where and when it’s compatible.”
Rinker’s donation provides habitat for a variety of big game and upland game, as well as a diversity of songbirds.
“Elk use this area during the winter months, and wintering elk are commonly observed on the property and adjacent Bureau of Land Management lands during winter big game survey flights,” said Mark Fleming, Fish and Game’s regional wildlife habitat manager. One of Fish and Game’s priorities is to improve the property as elk winter range.
“Maximizing the habitat potential of this property to attract and keep elk on their traditional winter range away from development will benefit elk herds and prevent depredation problems on private lands,” Fleming said.
Public access is available to the Timber Gulch property through an easement owned by Blaine County that allows non-motorized travel through adjacent private property.
“It’s our intent to preserve this property in perpetuity so people can use it forever,” Rinker said.
Rinker also donated a five-acre residential building site at Timber Gulch to the University of Idaho Foundation to contribute to improvements that the university is making on the 10,400-acre Rock Creek Ranch.
"We are very grateful to Mr. Rinker for making this gift," said University of Idaho President Chuck Staben. "The Rinker Family's generosity will make a lasting contribution to the management and conservation of the Idaho spaces we all cherish."