One thing all Idahoans can agree on, we love our open space. So when two brothers from Texas purchased tens of thousands of acres from companies like Boise Cascade and Potlatch it raised a lot of questions about access to public lands. But is it much to do about nothing?
Texas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks want land, and a lot of it. According to Forbes, the brothers sold their hydraulic fracturing company for three and half billion dollars and since then have bought more than five hundred thousand acres of land across five states, including Idaho. What exactly do they want with all the land is one of the many questions surrounding DF Development. In Idaho alone, they have purchased private land stretching from Boise County to Idaho County up north.
Sandra Mitchell is with the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, an organization that has kept a close eye on this massive land purchase. Mitchell is confident an agreement for access through the Wilks property can be worked out.
"They want to be good neighbors, they came here because they love this state, they love that land and I believe they'll be great stewards of all that land." Mitchell went on to say, she understands why so many people are concerned. The sad part is the part that makes this so complicated because all of these lands have been open to the public for decades."
Maybe a better way to understand this is to imagine your old neighbor who let your kids play in their front lawn all the time, but the new neighbor requests you ask first, and then will make a decision whether or not to let your kids continue to play there. As far as the state goes, there have been no issues yet with DF Development.
Spokesperson Emily Callihan added, "They have been cooperative, and we haven't had any issues with them not allowing us to get to where we need to go."
Representatives for the Wilks brothers sent Six On Your Side a statement saying how much they enjoy owning land and are a family of avid outdoorsmen. But make no mistake, they were surprised to see that not all visitors have treated this land with the same respect that they would. They feel some of the worst damage comes from ATV riders creating their own trails which leads to erosion, and campers who leave a mess behind in campsites.
Probably the best piece of advice before heading into Idaho's backcountry comes from Callihan who says, "Knowing where you are and whose land you're on is always something you should do when you're recreating outdoors."
DF Development will have signs posted just to remind you.