Fall is upon us, our town is less hectic, the fall colors are beautiful, and the hikes in Ponderosa Park are quiet again. The beauty that surrounds Payette Lake, especially now, is food for the soul.  Here’s PELA’s  latest update regarding the Payette endowment lands:


Last Tuesday morning the Land Board denied Trident Holdings’s request to overturn the Idaho Department of Lands’ (IDL) decision rejecting Trident’s land swap proposal, which would have privatized more than 21,000 acres of endowment lands surrounding Payette Lake. 


The Land Board voted unanimously 5-0 to deny Trident’s request and at the same time, the board also declined to hold a contested case hearing over the matter.

Attorney General Wasden said it clearly, “Ultimately, there is no legal right in play here.”


So what’s next? The Land Board’s unanimous vote is clearly a blow to Trident. It remains to be seen whether Trident pursues its lawsuit against the Land Board over the denial of its proposal, and Trident could come back to IDL with a new proposal aimed at privatizing the beloved McCall area endowment lands. Also, other developers may be waiting in the wings, aiming to gain hold of these precious lands. 


The best way to upend these attempts to privatize and develop the land is for our community to advocate for an alternative, conservation-based plan to be delivered to IDL and the Land Board. 


That is where United Payette (UP) comes in. UP is a broad coalition of conservation- based organizations, including PELA, who created a plan and submitted it to IDL and the Land Board this past week.


This plan proposes to keep the endowment lands publicly accessible, protect them from development, and increase the returns for the trust beneficiaries, thereby fulfilling the land board’s constitutional mandate. PELA had six board members directly working on writing and promoting the plan. The plan was reviewed by the full PELA board, and we provided detailed feedback which was incorporated into the final written plan. 


The long-range goal of the UP plan is to keep the lands open to public access and undeveloped, thereby protecting the buffer around Payette Lake. However, with growing population pressures, the lake is in a fragile condition already and with rising temperatures will be in ever more danger. PELA will participate in UP’s plan to negotiate for short-term leases to ”hold” the lands until more permanent conservation solutions can be put in place. In addition, PELA will continue to seek immediate avenues to further protect the lake and watershed.


Please read UP’s plan here, and if you support this conservation approach please sign the petition.