United Payette submits proposal for future of McCall endowment land

Payette Lake
Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-26 21:56:22-04

MCCALL, Idaho — Another group is pitching a proposal to the Idaho Department of Lands on the future of endowment lands in McCall.

United Payette, a coalition of citizens and organizations, announced a proposal Thursday that outlines a plan for the endowment lands located around Payette Lake.

The plan was submitted to IDL Wednesday and suggests short-term and long-term solutions for the land, focused on conservation.

United Payette said in a press release its plan would immediately increase revenue from the land, offer recommendations for each parcel of the land, focus on conservation and recreation-based solutions, minimize wildfire risk and continue public access.

"It focuses on both supporting the protection of the lands, protection of open space, water quality, wildfire protection while at the same time securing the maximum financial returns to the endowment trust for the state of Idaho," Jeff Mousseau, a member of the United Payette Steering Committee said.

The proposal suggests commercial development for parcel A on the map below and residential development for parcel B. United Payette said parcel C needs further review. The group recommends auction for parcels D and K and leases for the other parcels, specifically 5-year non-exclusive recreation or conservation-based leases funded by private donors or grants and held by Valley County.

United Payette said it would utilize stacked leases to maintain any leases IDL currently has in place and to secure the maximum financial return for IDL's beneficiaries.

Payette Endowment Land map

"The lands would basically be kind of run or used much like they are today," Mousseau said. "The five-year leases are really kind of built around giving additional time to analyze all the long-term permanent alternatives and really selecting the best one."

United Payette said it plans to long-term recommendations during these 5-year leases, but they have some ideas in mind now.

"Long-term solutions we're looking at include things like conservation leases, public land trades, purchase of property and donation to Ponderosa State Park where it makes sense," Mousseau said.

Additionally, the group is considering conservation easements.

'In a conservation easement, you set up a few activities such as non-development--that's the main one that you see. So what you're saying is "on this piece of property I as a landowner have agreed to the terms of a non-development clause that is now deed-restricted to this piece of property," Craig Utter, a member of the United Payette Steering Committee said.

This comes after the Board of Land Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to deny requests made for reconsideration of another proposal from Trident Holdings LLC.

Endowment land is not public land, but land owned by the state of Idaho and managed by IDL. The purpose of the land is to make money for the beneficiaries which includes public schools.

Much of the Endowment land near Payette Lake in McCall is easily accessed by the public and used for recreation.

“The plan was a tremendous amount of work by a diverse team to map out solutions that meet both community needs and secure the maximum long-term financial return to the state’s endowment trusts,” Jeff Mouseau, a member of United Payette's Steering Committee said.

United Payette said in its press release their plan has support from McCall City Council members, the Valley County Commissioners and the Shoshone Bannock Tribes whose native homeland included this endowment land.

United Payette said the next step is working with IDL on the 5-year leases.