MCCALL, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Lands rejected a proposed land swap involving endowment land near Payette Lake. But Alec Williams, the person who proposed the swap, is still working to make it a reality.
As our media partner BoiseDev reported, the Department of Lands explained the reasons for the rejection in a letter delivered to Williams and Trident Holdings LLC. Tuesday.
“At its core, the rejection was predicated on the idea that the values just weren’t even close. There was more than a $290 million difference between what was being offered and what was requested,” Scott Phillips, the Policy and Communications Chief for the Idaho Department of Lands said.
The Department of Lands estimates the endowment land to be worth more than $366 million, while it estimates the land Williams proposed to swap is worth more than $74 million.
Here’s how they got to these numbers: “We did this market analysis that was based on comparable sales and then when all was said and done, we took our analysis and had it reviewed by two third-party experts,” Phillips said.
Williams disagrees with these estimates and the process the Department of Lands used to get them.
“There are no roads, there’s no electricity, there’s no sewer, there’s no water. There are none of the things that actually make land valuable real estate. Of course, that’s ridiculous," he said.
Other factors also led to the Department of Lands' decision to reject the proposal, including the location of the northern Idaho timberland involved in the proposed swap.
“In this case, only about 9,000 acres of proposed land were actually adjacent to existing endowment parcels,” Phillips said.
He also said this means roughly 12,000 acres would be scattered, making management difficult. Williams says Trident has asked to speak before the Board of Land Commissioners to explain why they think the information in the rejection letter is incorrect.
Williams' group has said it plans to add a resort and housing to the undeveloped area and also expand the local state park.
“Our whole motivation for doing this is to find ways that protect all Idahoans recreational access to this area for generations to come,” he said.
The land is already accessible to the public and a local group of stakeholders has come together to oppose trident's land swap proposal. "United Payette" instead supports a plan from the Idaho Department of Lands.
“The PELS was really the strategies that the Idaho Department of Lands developed, and the Land Board approved so what we’re looking at is how you implement those strategies,” Jeff Mousseau, a member of United Payette's steering committee said.
The PELS plan is the Payette Endowment Land Strategy plan, which was approved in March.