No need to rush on auction of Cougar Island


The Star-News

The state land board should hold its horses when it comes to the auction of Cougar Island in Payette Lake. There is no reason to rush the process when there are groups and governments working to preserve the island for public use.

On Tuesday, the land board, made up of the top five elected officials in the state, brushed aside a request by Valley County commissioners to delay the auction to give the county time to come up with a plan to preserve the island. United Payette, a coalition of citizen groups, also is trying to muster funds to make the state an offer. The island has been there for many millennia and isn’t going anywhere, so why wouldn’t the land board agree to a postponement? We don’t know, because the board went behind closed doors – violating the intent of the Idaho Open Meeting Law – so they could discuss the topic without the prying eyes of the pesky public.

It is odd that the land board chose Cougar Island as the first parcel of state endowment land to put on the block under its year-old plan to cash in on valuable state parcels in the McCall area. Since it is obvious there is great public interest in the island, why would board members turn such a deaf ear to the distraught objections of opponents to the sale?

If the land board is looking for low-hanging fruit to turn a quick buck, it should sell parcels on which there are no arguments, such as the 80 acres on Deinhard Lane. The board should either table the Cougar Island auction, or be respectful enough to tell the public what’s lit the fire under their chairs.

Story originally published in The Star-News in McCall on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Republished with permission.