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Business, Environmental, Recreational Interests Join To Steer Management Of Endowment Lands

Rock outcropping with evergreen trees that is jutting into Payette Lake
Kelly Martin
A new coalition is looking to protect endowment lands, which include areas around Payette Lake.

Business owners, recreationalists, hunters and environmentalists are coming together to help decide what happens to Idaho endowment lands in the North Fork Payette watershed.

United Payette is a new coalition of different organizations including Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Brightwater Homeowners Association and the Idaho Conservation League. They are aiming to have more say in how state-owned endowment lands are managed or sold in Valley County.

“This is the first time that a broad coalition has finally united to say we've really got to do something about this. All of us share the same values," said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.

Some of the coalition's goals are protecting habitat, water quality and recreational access.

The Idaho Department of Lands manages endowment lands that are largely used to fund public schools in the state. The Idaho constitution says the state board of land commissioners has to manage these lands to secure the "maximum long term financial return."

"We are looking at ways with which we can fulfill their constitutional mandate while conserving this landscape. So those two things are not mutually exclusive," Brooks said.

Brooks said the group’s first projects will look at parcels of land in their region that could soon be sold or traded.