From the Pioneer Mountains to the Craters of the Moon lies a relatively unknown and largely unspoiled natural area in Central Idaho. Spanning 2.6 million acres of diverse terrain, including lava beds, high desert, rivers and alpine forests, the Pioneers to Craters area was identified by TNC scientists as one of the most climate-resilient places in the Pacific Northwest. At its lower edge is a sagebrush sea dotted with springs and aspen groves. At its high point is Idaho’s third highest mountain peak. Wildlife thrive across this diverse range, among them migrating pronghorn, wolverine and greater sage-grouse.
It is against this backdrop that generations of ranchers and farmers have made homes and livelihoods, guided by a respect for the land and what it provides. In the early 2000s, residents, government agencies and nonprofits took on the monumental task of conserving much of the private land in the area through an effort known as the Pioneers Alliance. TNC Idaho set a goal of conserving 100,000 acres of private lands that were critical connections to public lands in this area.
To date, TNC and its partners in the Pioneers Alliance have conserved more than 95,000 acres — closing in on the overall goal and vision to keep the Pioneers to Craters whole, thriving and resilient to climate change.