The preserve is known for epic fishing grounds but it is also a sanctuary for a diversity of wildlife including moose, elk, and sandhill cranes.
Moose at Silver Creek The preserve is known for epic fishing grounds but it is also a sanctuary for a diversity of wildlife including moose, elk, and sandhill cranes. © John Finnell

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The Nature Conservancy Receives Blaine County Approval for Infrastructure Enhancements at Silver Creek Preserve

The Nature Conservancy in Idaho announced today that it has secured approval from Blaine County to undergo infrastructure enhancements at its flagship 881-acre Silver Creek Preserve. Designed with the community in mind to improve Silver Creek Preserve, these enhancements will include renovations to its existing visitor center, the creation of a new classroom facility, and other essential upgrades that will increase visitor accessibility and safety, support recreation, and provide new opportunities for education and community engagement.

The infrastructure improvements will strengthen Silver Creek Preserve as a unique place of refuge for both people and nature. Renowned for its world-class fly fishing and other recreation opportunities, the Preserve is a model for successful community-based conservation, attracting over 5,400 visitors annually from all over the world. Renovation of the existing infrastructure, combined with the additional classroom to support new educational and outreach programming, will ensure Silver Creek Preserve remains a beloved community landmark where visitors can experience first-hand the benefits of natural resource conservation and protection.

Following a Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on November 19, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was granted the necessary approval  for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and a Site Alteration Permit (SAP) to remodel the existing 565 square foot Silver Creek Visitor Center and build an additional 1,422 square foot classroom space suitable for approximately 25 students and other community events.

As part of the planning process, TNC has hired Ketchum-based architect Rebecca F. Bundy and landscape architect Nathan Schutte of NS Consulting, working in collaboration with Native Landscapes, Inc., to support the enhancement project. The architectural and landscape design, with its minimal visual impact and incorporation of native plantings, is intended to blend seamlessly into the Preserve’s natural beauty.

Artists rendering of building on sage covered hillside
Building set on side of sage covered hill
Before and After Visitor Center Improvements Artistic rendering shows proposed visitor center improvements and addition © Photos and rendering courtesy of Rebecca F. Bundy, architect, and Nathan Schutte, NS Consulting, landscape architect

Additional improvements to the Preserve will include updated and modernized interpretive signage and amenities that better connect the public with the surrounding landscape and conservation education. Existing trails and boardwalks will be improved and coordinated with educational materials such as audio guides, interpretive signage, and trail maps. To enhance the recreation experience, the project will add fishing access structures (such as steps and ramps) and infrastructure improvements to canoe launch areas. The project will also add more accessible amenities such as ADA-compliant parking, one new ADA-accessible trail, and two ADA-compliant restrooms to ensure a safe and accommodating experience for all visitors. 

Construction will be focused within already disturbed development sites and no topsoil will be imported, ensuring the protection of sensitive habitats from construction disturbance and invasive species. Additionally, the project is pursuing LEED Gold and Net-Zero certifications, with plans to utilize solar panels for power. Construction is expected to begin in late Spring 2021 with a projected completion date of Spring 2022.

These infrastructure improvements are part of a long-term vision, spearheaded by TNC in partnership with the community, to enhance the overall visitor experience, expand community access and education opportunities, and restore the Creek's unique ecosystem.

Regular updates will be available on the Silver Creek Preserve page.


Rebecca F. Bundy, Architect, PLLC AIA AICP CFM is a small design firm that specializes in sustainable, environmentally-friendly architecture. The firm is located in Ketchum, in the mountains of central Idaho, but has worked with clients as far away as Sacramento, Seattle and Denver. Bundy has been proprietor of her own design firms since 1998 and has specialized in environmentally sensitive design since 2001. Prior to starting her own firm, she worked for architecture firms in Ketchum, Seattle, and Munich, Germany. Bundy graduated cum laude with a BA in Architecture from the University of Washington and went on to study at the Technical University of Munich, earning a Diplom Ingenieur in Architektur. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM).


 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.