United Payette continues effort to conserve McCall endowment land

Payette Lake
Posted at 9:40 AM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 13:47:09-05

MCCALL, ID — A coalition of community members and organizations in McCall called United Payette, is working to conserve endowment land in McCall and keep it open to the public.

They released their plan to accomplish this in September. Since United Payette released their plan, covering thousands of acres in McCall, they've been working with local and state government agencies and the community to make it a reality.

United Payette's original proposal called for a short-term and long-term plan for each parcel of endowment land near Payette Lake.

That includes development for some parcels and auction or leases for others.

Right now, United Payette is working with Valley County on the short-term leases and is in negotiations with the Idaho Department of Lands about more conservation efforts for parcels 'e' and 'l' on this map.

Payette Endowment Land map

"Up's application for a land-use permit really focuses on allowing traditional uses of endowment lands in the McCall area--namely recreation. It would have some prohibitions for that two-year period on things like development and resorts and hotels and the like. It's really designed to keep the land open for public use," Scott Phillips, the Policy and Communications Chief for IDL said.

United Payette hopes to wrap up negotiations in the next few weeks.

While locals use endowment land for recreation, it's not public land. State law requires IDL to use it to generate revenue for its beneficiaries, mainly public schools.

United Payette isn't the only entity negotiating with IDL.

"There's also an application for either the purchase or a possible land exchange for 23 acres of parcel h," Phillips said.

There's also an application to purchase parcel k.

"The big development we're also very excited about is the potential for a larger land exchange with the united states forest service," Phillips said.

He said the process is still in early stages and could take years. But there are several things United Payette hopes to accomplish this year, including creating a citizen's advisory group with valley county.

"And the purpose of that group will be to research and recommend conservation solutions in valley county," Julie Manning, a member of United Payette's steering committee said.

United Payette is also working on conservation options for one of the islands in Payette Lake.

"We've come so far in such a short amount of time that I believe this group can do great things and set a model for the rest of the state," Kristen Sinclair, a member of United Payette's steering committee said.