The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) comprises 756,000 acres of public and private land in central Idaho. The size of Rhode Island, the SNRA contains 50 snowcapped peaks exceeding 10,000 feet, 500 alpine lakes, lush meadows, countless species of wildlife, and treasures from our pioneer heritage.
The spectacular beauty and varied world-class recreational opportunities are arguably unmatched anywhere in the world. Many come for brief get-aways, others for months on end, but all fall in love with the unparallelled scenic beauty and awe-inspiring solitude.
Congress sought to protect this magnificent country from intense or inappropriate development by creating the SNRA in 1972. The U.S. Forest Service was directed to manage the area in a way that would restrict development, while simultaneously respecting private property rights and allowing for varied uses of the land.
Good progress was made initially. Between 1972 and 1986, the Forest Service preserved the natural, historical and recreational qualities of the SNRA, largely by acquiring conservation easements on approximately 90 percent of the 25,000 acres of private property in the area.
Between 1987 and 1996, federal funds to purchase conservation easements were not made available to the Forest Service managers of the SNRA, and some owners of the 2,500 acres of unprotected private land began to subdivide their properties.
The Sawtooth Society was formed in 1997 in response to this situation. The Society negotiated conservation easements to eliminate this subdivision and worked with the Forest Service to secure $17 million to pay for these easements. Since then, the Society has secured funding for additional easements, invested hundreds of thousan