In early June, we announced that John Oxley of Sandpoint, Idaho, was the winner of the 2015 Create & Conserve Contest. Each year it becomes more difficult to pick the winner. There were so many great entries again in 2015, from which we selected five very worthy finalists for site visits in Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Colorado and Idaho.
Our choice of John’s picturesque property came down to the variety of projects we could do. Location and accessibility also came into play because — in the end — we have to be able to get several semi-loads of equipment into the site. But what most influenced our decision this year was that it included erosion control projects we hadn’t done before and really wanted to tackle.
Some Insights into our Thinking
In 2013 our focus was removing invasive species and replanting with native grasses — creating conservation plots. Very minimalistic — we made some trails, moved a few trees, and built a pond. In 2014 we tackled a couple of big projects — each dependent on the other — a huge pond with an irrigation system feeding a big conservation plot. Think of 2015 as the year for erosion control.
About the Winner – John Oxley
The Oxleys’ permanent residence is in Arizona, where they work with adults with special needs. Interestingly, we learned that John and his wife had never even visited Idaho until their daughter married a man from there. Traveling north for the wedding, they fell in love with the state and bought this property.
To reach the site from our home base in North Dakota, we flew into Spokane, Washington, and drove northeast to Sandpoint, which is north of Coeur d’Alene on U.S. Highway 2. The 200-acre conservation property is set apart for hiking and wildlife viewing, which is abundant. On any day you may spot moose, mountain caribou, white tail deer, mule deer and even bears.
The 2015 Create & Conserve Projects Completed
Trails, Tile, Erosion Control, Conservation Plots and a Wildlife Viewing Area
During our finalist-screening visit in May, we reviewed John’s conservation project wish list. He had access issues getting to parts of his property, so building trails would be on our project list. Water was a bigger issue, however. The Upper Pack River runs really fast through there, eroding the riverbank. Hillside runoff was damaging roads. And unwelcome atv’s and dirt bikes damaged a planned wildlife viewing area. In each case, erosion control measures were called for on this beautiful northern Idaho property.