MONTPELLIER, Idaho (AP) -- Federal wildlife officials are on the hunt for ranchers and farmers willing to put thousands of acres of land into conservation easements in Idaho's southeast corner.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to buy up development rights in the Bear River watershed. KIDK-TV ( ) reports the target is to set aside up to 920,000 acres deemed important habitat for species.

Fish and Wildlife Service official Bob Barrett says conservation easements are critical to protecting valuable habitat in the long term.

Under conservation easement rules, the government pays landowners for the right to stop development on certain acreage -- though farmers and ranchers can still use the land to grow crops or graze cattle.

The agency held public meetings in Montpellier and Preston on the plan last week.


Information from: KIDK-TV,

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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