Cougar Island to be sold later this year by state


The Star-News

Cougar Island in Payette Lake is set to be sold at public auction later this year, according to the Idaho Department of Lands.

Cougar Island looking north from Ponderosa State Park. Photo courtesy Corbett Bottles Real Estate Auctions.

The planned auction of the 14.2-acre island is the first action under a state plan to sell 377 acres of state endowment land around the lake within 20 years.

The auction of the island is set for “Summer 2022” according to an online notice by Corbett Bottles Real Estate of Eagle, the company hired by the state to conduct auctions of state land.

However, no date has been set for the auction, IDL spokesperson Sharla Arledge said.

Pin shows the location of Cougar Island in Payette Lake.

The auction of Cougar Island was previously approved by the state land board in 2018 as part of a program that allows lessees of cottage sites on state land to voluntarily put their leases up for auction.

Cougar Island contains five platted cottage site lots, one of which is leased and has a home built on it.

Any future auction of state lands around Payette Lake would need specific authorization of the land board as part of the Payette Endowment Land Strategy, Arledge said.

Cougar Island was included as part of the strategy, which was adopted in 2020, Arledge said.

The auction will likely allow bidders to bid on each lot or the entire island, she said.

Selling the island at auction would “not be a positive solution” for local residents, said Jeff Mousseau of United Payette, a local coalition aimed at conserving endowment land.

“The loss of Cougar Island for public access, views and enjoyment continues the ever-present degradation of access to lands once viewed as public,” Mousseau said.

A task force led by Payette Land Trust Executive Director Craig Utter is currently working on ways to conserve the island, Mousseau said.

One idea is for the island to add it to Ponderosa State Park or to be donated for the creation of a new city or county park, he said.

Another idea would be to buy a conservation easement on the island, which would permanently restrict future development, Mousseau said.

Last month, United Payette and Valley County applied to the state to place 1,218 acres of endowment land fronting Payette Lake under short-term non-commercial recreation leases.

About 1,051 acres are along the southern portion of Warren Wagon Road near McCall, while the remaining 167 acres are along Eastside Drive south of Lucks Point.

The lease would prevent development on the lands, but still allow the lands department to earn money from leases for logging, recreation, grazing and other uses.

The lease would also allow continued public access for camping, hiking, berry picking and other recreational activities.

The lease would be for two to three years and would pay the lands department an amount still to be determined.

Cougar Island is not included in the application.

The county’s application is currently being reviewed, but there is not a timeline for the lands department to respond to the application, Arledge said.

The short-term leases would give the coalition time to raise money for conservation easements that would permanently restrict future development on the endowment lands.

Story originally published in The Star-News in McCall on Thursday, April 28, 2022. Republished with permission.