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Focus Group looks at endowment land surrounding Payette Lake

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 18:35:37-05

MCCALL, Idaho — CORRECTION: The Idaho Department of Lands manages 183,000 acres in the Payette Lakes Area Office, they have 30,000 acres of land they managed around McCall, but 90 percent of that is designated for timber.

A new focus group has been put together to come up with ideas for the remaining ten percent which includes a lot of lakefront property near McCall.

Original Story:

The Idaho Department of Lands manages 183,000 acres of land around Payette Lake and Little Payette Lake. On Thursday, interested stakeholders came together to form a focus group and hold their first virtual meeting.

Endowment Land was handed over when Idaho became a state, but it came with a catch. Endowment Land has to be managed to maximize revenue.

"These lands were pulled out of the public domain and given to the state to be managed in a way to produce income for public schools and other beneficiaries," said Dustin Miller of the Idaho Department of Lands.

The state constitution requires the Land Board to generate revenue from these lands. The land is leased for grazing, the land is managed for timber and we recently did a story about a proposed cell tower near Redfish Lake by Stanley.

40 percent of the endowment land around McCall is leased for timber, but closer to town, that changes, and the lakefront properties have been deemed underperforming assets, but the value of that land is going through the roof.

"So the plan is basically identifying transition lands in a community context that requires long-range evaluation," said Ryan Montoya. "Ultimately, our goal is to transition the property into some other use and increase the value."

Phase one of their plan calls for transitioning the land in the next one to five years, and the options moving forward include leasing the land, disposition and land swaps.

"We've tried to align our expectations with the City of McCall's growth patterns, and that is where you get the phase one, phase two and phase three properties," said Montoya.

We have done several reports on Trident Holdings LLC. and its interest in a land swap. A representative with the Idaho Department of Lands told us Trident never submitted an application.

The meeting also showcased how a lease application proceeds to a public auction, but that doesn't happen with a land swap, the requirements for a land swap include grouping together endowment lands, gaining access or getting an increase in land value.

This marked the first meeting of a focus group with interested stakeholders as the Idaho Department of Lands gathers input about this land's future use.

It's important to note that IDL doesn't have to do this; they are not required by law to have a public comment period.

However, there is a public comment period that lasts until February 12, and the focus group will meet three more times before submitting their ideas to the Land Board in either March or April.