The wetlands at Ball Creek Preserve provide a refuge for wildlife
Wetlands at Ball Creek The wetlands at Ball Creek Preserve provide a refuge for wildlife © The Nature Conservancy (Megan Grover-Cereda)

Places We Protect

Ball Creek Farm Preserve

Idaho

On this working farm, wetlands provide a refuge for wildlife—and a place for you to enjoy the beauty of the North Idaho.

"Build it and they will come."

In 2002, The Nature Conservancy began a 500-acre restoration project on Ball Creek Farm Preserve, a 2300-acre nature preserve located 12 miles north of Bonners Ferry.

The wetland project aimed to restore habitat that had been missing from the Kootenai River Valley for decades, part of an effort to provide more habitat for ducks, geese and other wildlife throughout this special area.

TNC balances the wetlands with a working farm that operates on two-thirds of the preserve.

In addition, TNC has a 350-acre conservation easement on adjacent timberland owned by the Molpus Woodlands Group.  

When the wetland was first constructed, TNC's Steve Grourke remarked, "Build it and they will come." It did not take long for his prediction to become reality. In the fall, flocks of ducks and geese flock to the preserve before continuing their migration. Dozens of other bird species have been spotted on the preserve and nearby Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors should keep an eye out for moose, elk, otter, beaver, bald eagle and even black bear.

We hope you can visit our beautiful wetlands soon.

Counting Bats at Ball Creek

The restored wetlands of Ball Creek Farm Preserve make it a prime habitat for bats. Riparian areas are important for these night-loving flying mammals because they provide drinking water, insect populations for food, and trees for roosting.

Each year, TNC in Idaho joins Idaho Fish and Game to count the number of these special creatures that reside on the Farm. Since 2014, typically 50 to 300 bats have been spotted during the yearly evening flight time. In May of 2019, observers counted 342 bats, a record high. The bat houses are also carefully investigated to see if pups can be spotted.

Two large bat boxes on a posts in wetland field
Ball Creek Bat Boxes Boxes provide shelter for bats at Ball Creek © Kennon McClintock/TNC

Mutual Benefits

There is currently one bat house structure on the Farm, and TNC hopes to install a second one soon. Bats only spend the warmer months at Ball Creek. In October they will be on the move up the rock walks and crevices in the Selkirk Mountains to spend the winter season.

The bats are also a great example of how people and nature can thrive together. All ten species of bats that have been identified in North Idaho eat insects. Since Ball Creek Preserve is a working farm, this means that bats provide some pest protection for the crops. According to the Idaho State Journal, bats are worth about $74 per acre to farmers because of the insects they eat. In Idaho alone, this means bats are worth an estimated $313 million annually to the agricultural industry.

Want to learn more about bats? Here are 10 bat facts!

Enjoy bird and wildlife watching, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, fly-fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Ball Creek from sunrise to sunset year-round.

Special notes:

  • Dogs and horses are allowed. This is habitat for sensitive wildlife. Please keep dogs under close control and at a safe distance from wildlife to prevent conflicts.
  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted. 
  • No big game hunting or trapping. Waterfowl and turkey hunting are allowed during the hunting season. Visit our Hunting and Fishing page for more information.   

Facilities: There are no public restroom facilities on-site.

For the latest on access, please contact Kennon McClintock, North Idaho watershed manager, at 208-267-8999 or kmcclintock@tnc.org.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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