Craig Utter

July 15, 2020

Craig Utter is Executive Director for the Payette Land Trust, conserving for future generations the scenic, agricultural, ranch, recreational, historic and wildlife values of Idaho.

While originally a rancher in Nebraska, Craig began work in environmental and conservation-based non-profits. He moved to Idaho to fight forest fires on helitack crews, maintaining his conservation work in Nebraska. Eventually he moved his skill set completely to Idaho.

We talk about the inherent nature of development and a corresponding need for conservation easements, facilitated by a land trust. Commonly we think of an easement as a right-of-way. Imagine an easement for wild animal migration or agriculture.

Endowment Lands often create a conundrum as publicly-held lands leased to private companies, other government entities, and individuals for timber, agriculture, oil and gas, minerals, and private uses like homes. They can traded to create larger tracts, often beneficial, often controversial. Craig explains the challenges, offers an informed perspective, and shares some questions and potential solutions the Payette Land Trust has presented to conserve Endowment Lands.

Want to walk or bike along the river or legally pull out your boat? The Payette Land Trust is often the hub of the wheel connecting multiple government agencies and private stakeholders. To this end the Land Trust created the Payette River Basin Initiative as an umbrella structure to organize conservation and public access.

Also consider how working with one large entity is easier than several, the necessity of corridors, how agriculture is particularly important as a corridor for self-sufficient communities, and how development tends to move up river basins.

We close with how anyone can include conservation in estate planning, how to effectively submit comments to the Idaho Land Board, and other ways to support conservation efforts. Each community has unique needs, and with land and waterways the time to act is always well before we realize the need exists. Read more here at 


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