Rich farmland and rural heritage
Just a few miles north of Moscow, off Lewis Road lies a farm at the base of Moscow Mountain. After the owner of the farm, Joe Lewis, passed away, the land was sold to a developer who planned to rezone the land for a housing subdivision. Twice the rezoning request was denied but the new landowner kept trying. A group of concerned neighbors came together with the hopes of making sure that didn’t happen.
Valuable farmland and wildlife habitat
Surrounded by forests, farms and a few homes, the farm was not only valuable agricultural land, it also provided habitat for a variety of animals that live on Moscow Mountain. The land provided important winter habitat for white-tailed deer and a variety of small mammals.Other large mammals that have used the property include moose, elk, and black bear. Upland game birds including ring-necked pheasant, California quail and Hungarian partridge, use the property regularly.
While most of the land was used for crops such as winter wheat and garbanzos, there is a natural drainage that contains native plants such as bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, arrowleaf balsamroot, little sunflower, and prairie smoke, woods rose, snowberry, chokecherry, and ninebark. A portion of the Property that contains Douglas hawthorn was also considered potential habitat for the rare Palouse earthworm.
The neighbors were also concerned for the future of the water supply as there was reason to believe that adding new homes would significantly impact surrounding properties. Permanently protecting this piece of land would protect groundwater resources, provide places for wildlife to thrive, and preserve fertile farmland. And it would also protect scenic views of Moscow Mountain from the city of Moscow and travelers along Highway 95.
The power of a small group of concerned citizens
The Lewis farm was very nearly lost, but for the efforts of a small group of concerned citizens who didn’t want to see the fertile farmland converted to rural housing. These neighbors banded together, pooled their resources, and bought the farm from the developer. They then worked with the Land Trust to place an agricultural conservation easement on it to ensure that its agricultural, wildlife, and scenic resources would be protected forever.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead