On September 22nd, United Payette (UP), a coalition of local and regional stakeholders, submitted a proposal to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and the Idaho Land Board today that seeks to conserve over 5,000 acres of endowment lands that surround Payette Lake.
The lands have been the subject of scrutiny as other proposals have sought privatization and development. Unlike other public lands, the Idaho Constitution requires the Land Board (made up of the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Controller and Superintendent of Education) to maximize returns. Because of rising land values surrounding Payette Lake, the state may be forced to consider selling the lands. The UP proposal seeks to eliminate that threat by providing consistent revenues to support continued state ownership.
The proposal is the result of months of collaboration and discussions among citizens, the City of McCall, Valley County, and other stakeholders. UP’s proposal provides:
- Time-phased solutions to immediately increase endowment revenues that add time to develop long-term solutions;
- Recommendations for each of the parcels in the endowment acreage;
- Conservation and recreation-based solutions including leases and easements to protect habitat and water quality and preserve open space;
- Minimized wildfire risk;
- Continued public access for outdoor recreation and traditional uses.
The plan would not impact current state land activities like logging and grazing, and allows for potential future uses as long as those do not conflict with current and traditional public use of the landscape.
“The plan was a tremendous amount of work by a diverse team to map out solutions that meet both community needs and secure the maximum long-term financial return to the state’s endowment trusts,” said Jeff Mousseau, a McCall resident and UP steering committee member. “In the end, the plan aligns with the Payette Endowment Lands Strategy (PELS) that the state Land Board approved in March. We look forward to working with the state, county, city and other partners to implement this plan.”
McCall City councilman Mike Maciaszek stated,
“These parcels are within the City of McCall’s Area of Impact. They’re important to the character of our community, and I fully endorse UP’s Plan to work with the State to ensure that these lands remain accessible to the public and contribute to the health and wellbeing of our community.”
Valley County Commissioners have also voiced support for UP’s Plan. “To protect our lands is to protect our future. These lands provide many benefits to our community, and we want them to remain as public lands,” said Sherry Maupin, Valley County Commissioner.
In a letter of support for UP’s Implementation Plan, the Shoshone Bannock Tribes explain the Payette Lake endowment lands are a part of their Native homelands. “As Idaho’s population grows so does the increasing threat and pressure to privatize and develop State endowment lands such as those found around the Payette Lake at McCall. The Tribes support [UP’s] mission to permanently conserve the State of Idaho’s Payette endowment lands for the public and the health of the ecosystem”
United Payette has begun working on applications to submit to the Idaho Department of Lands and plans to meet with IDL in the coming weeks and develop lease applications for the short term portions of the plan.