Rock Creek Ranch Named in Honor of Rinker Family Following Generous Gift
June 22, 2018
Rock Creek Ranch, the research, outreach and education facility managed by the University of Idaho, the Wood River Land Trust (WRLT) and The Nature Conservancy, will soon be known as Rinker Rock Creek Ranch in recognition of the generous contributions of the Rinker Family.
Harry and Diane Rinker and the Rinker family were honored Thursday, June 21, at the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum. The ranch, located in Idaho’s Wood River Valley, is a 10,400-acre property that provides abundant resources for wildlife, recreation and sustainable ranching. It is open to the public, features education events and acts as a living laboratory for research conducted at U of I and partner institutions.
Hosted by U of I, Thursday’s event included a celebration of the Rinker family’s contributions and announcement of the name change. The ranch will officially be Rinker Rock Creek Ranch once the deed is transferred to U of I, which is anticipated to take place in early fall.
In 2014, the Rinkers sold Rock Creek Ranch to the WRLT and the Conservancy at significantly below-market value in an effort to support conservation. The groups formed an advisory council that included government, ranching and community leaders, who helped guide the vision for Rock Creek. The Conservancy and the WRLT worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to secure long-term protections of the ranch’s grasslands and wildlife habitat.
This summer, the WRLT and the Conservancy sold the ranch to U of I for just over $1.2 million, half of the $2.4 million price tag. The other half of the cost was raised through fundraising efforts led by the Conservancy and the WRLT. Recently, the Rinkers made a gift to U of I to help with the purchase.
Following the deed transfer, land management decisions at Rock Creek Ranch will continue to be collaborative between U of I, the WRLT and the Conservancy to ensure an approach that is balanced and conservation-minded.
Scott Boettger, executive director of the WRLT, acknowledged the history and unique assets that are being preserved on the property.
“What makes Rock Creek Ranch so special is that it hasn’t changed since the first pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail across it over 160 years ago. It still pretty much looks the same now as it did then. Thanks to our partners and the Rinker family, the ranch will remain much as it is — a living part of our history,” Boettger said. “The ranch not only protects invaluable wildlife habitat and water resources, but it will also continue to provide a variety of recreational opportunities.”
Harry Rinker, a longtime developer and environmentalist, said it’s important for the ranch to be kept in perpetuity both for uses by U of I and as a wildlife reserve.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to do this so that the ranch doesn’t go into development,” he said. “I appreciate it being referred to as the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch because our family will be enjoying that recognition for generations. It’s truly an honor for us.”
Speakers, including U of I President Chuck Staben, Rangeland Center Director and College of Natural Resources Professor Karen Launchbaugh and Lt. Gov. Brad Little noted the unique facility would not be possible without the Rinkers’ forward-thinking perspective and the important partnerships between U of I, the WRLT and the Conservancy.
“The research, learning opportunities and community engagement at the ranch are a boon to understanding and promoting effective rangeland management and conservation for all of Idaho,” Staben said. “We are grateful for the Rinkers’ vote of confidence in that vision for U of I and for our state.”
Toni Hardesty, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, echoed sentiments about what setting aside the ranch means for conservation, collaboration and the Gem State.
“We live in a state that is fast changing. We need to make thoughtful decisions about how we use and manage our natural lands for the benefit of people and wildlife,” Hardesty said. “Rock Creek Ranch, and the collaboration of the University of Idaho, the Conservancy, Wood River Land Trust and others, will help land managers make more informed decisions in addressing the significant challenges facing Western rangelands. We’re grateful to the Rinkers for their generosity, which creates a university-led field research, education and outreach facility benefiting Idaho and the community.”
Rangeland Center Director, University of Idaho
Executive Director, Wood River Land Trust
Deputy Director, The Nature Conservancy
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu