Bedroll to a Mountainside
As Idaho Senator Frank Church put it:
"The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust."
Privatization followed by commercial and residential development would change the landscape of the McCall area endowment lands forever. An increasing population in Idaho is causing increasing pressures on lands. Endowment lands have generated controversies and issues in the McCall area for years, from the sales of cottage sites and cottage properties along Big Payette Lake to Parcel G, also known as the Wedding Venue Site, along the east shore of Big Payette Lake. In 2020, a newly formed company, Trident Holdings, proposed the idea of swapping timberlands in the northern part of the state for 28,000 acres of McCall area endowment lands. In March 2021, Trident Holdings (or Preserve McCall) submitted an application to the Land Board to trade 20,250 acres of the McCall Area Endowment Lands for other timberlands in the state. The IDL denied this request and the Land Board affirmed this decision in September 2021, but other development interests are sure to come forward.
The privatization and development of endowment lands would negate generations of local conservation efforts, from the advocacy that created Ponderosa State Park to recent regulations protecting Big Payette Lake. It would also cause a significant negative impact on humans, wildlife and the ecosystem, including a disruption of big game migration patterns; a degradation of water quality in the North Fork Payette watershed and Big Payette Lake, the sole drinking water source for the city of McCall as well as expansion of existing downstream water quality problems including Cascade Reservoir; a loss of land access to the public for recreation and other activities and leverage over access to other lands in the area; and a potential increase in forest fires.
A visual example of development can be seen when comparing McCall, Idaho to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Coeur d'Alene has more development along and above Lake Coeur d'Alene than McCall does above Payette Lake. The photos below provide a visual difference in development between the two.