New details on McCall land swap emerge in less-redacted version of high-stakes proposal

Trident Holdings McCall landswap
Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 20:00:40-05

This article was originally published by Don Day in BoiseDev.

BoiseDev obtained additional details on Trident Holdings’ proposal to swap for endowment land around McCall, Idaho.

Last month, we broke news that Trident formally submitted its proposal to the State of Idaho for a land exchange that would move a significant amount of land in the Payette Lake region to private control – with the promise that some of it would be used for conservation and public recreation.

Trident provided us with a heavily-redacted copyof the proposal it submitted to the State of Idaho. Sixty-four percent of the pages in the version Trident gave us were blacked out. Separately, we requested a copy from the Idaho Department of Lands under Idaho’s public records laws.

Trident gave the State of Idaho two copies of the proposal. One completely unredacted for the eyes of officials and Idaho Department of Lands staff. Another one with the heavy redactions that it told the state to give out to anyone who asked for a copy.

But the state ignored Trident’s direction and instead performed its own, more targeted redactions and released that copy to BoiseDev.

In comparing the two versions, new information comes to light – and helps bring additional details on what Trident hopes the State of Idaho will allow it to do.

The North Idaho lands

We’ve reported that Trident said it hopes to acquire timberland in North Idaho and swap them with the Idaho Department of Lands endowment in exchange for the land around Payette Lake. But Trident wouldn’t tell us what land.

While the State of Idaho blocked out most identifying information for the North Idaho timber parcels, it did leave some general information intact. It shows that Trident wants to buy land in Benewah, Clearwater, Latah, and Shoshone Counties. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Benewah County – 1.835 square miles of forest land in a single parcel
  • Clearwater County – 12.068 square miles of forest land across 15 parcels
  • Latah County – 5.287 square miles of forest land across three parcels
  • Shoshone County – 13.323 square miles of forest land across 12 parcels

All together, Trident says it will buy a total of 32.52 square miles of land spread across 31 different parcels. Trident says it hired consultants to value the land, based on timber prices, options on the land, and the timing of the potential close of the proposal.

Comparing value

“Based on these factors, the market value of the timberlands presented here is estimated to range from $30 to $45 million dollars as of October 2020,” the Trident proposal said in a footnote.

The proposal then compares the estimated value to the value the state outlined in the Payette Endowment Lands Strategy that we reported on last year.

“IDL’s Payette Endowment Lands Strategy (‘PELS’), presented in December 2020 estimated the likely value of those lands subject to PELS and that are also included in this application… as $25,090,952.00.”

In essence, Trident says it will purchase timberland it says carries a value of $30 million to $45 million and swap it for $25 million worth of development land around McCall.

Only a partial swap

Initially, Trident said it would swap for all the land in the endowment around McCall, in what Williams called a “holistic” solution to stop “piecemeal” sales of lands by the Idaho Land Board.

But the actual proposal changes gears as we reported last month, and removes three large pieces of land, with the idea to leave them with the endowment. The parcels include an area around Little Payette Lake and in Pilgrim’s Cove. Those three areas, which are called parcels C, D and K – would slice out $27.99 million of the overall $53.08 million in value of the Payette Lake region lands by Trident’s math. That means Williams only hopes to buy less than half of the land in the area, as measured by monetary value.

The Trident proposal primarily focuses now on the land which would carry the most significant value for development and Williams’ idea for an expansion of Ponderosa park – including the tree-covered hills that frame Payette Lake as viewed from McCall.

Williams told BoiseDev last month, and admits in the proposal, that Trident does not actually own any of the land it tells the state it wants to swap. While the proposal repeatedly indicates Trident owns the land with language like “its properties,” a footnote makes clear it doesn’t actually have property yet.

“As of the date of this application, Trident does not own the parcels described here in fee, but will acquire fee title immediately preceding closing of escrow according do an exchange agreement,” the proposal states.