On Tuesday December 12, 2000, the Idaho Land Board agreed with an administrative appeal filed by the Lacey Meadows Grazing Association (LMGA) of Weippe, Idaho of a grazing lease auction won by Idaho Watersheds Project (IWP) on August 22, 2000. The Board awarded the lease to the Association even though they were the low bidder. IWP had proposed to eliminate livestock use from the lease for the ten year lease term.
At the auction in August IWP had outbid LMGA with a final bid of $8,000. The Association's losing bid was $7,500. The grazing lease covers over 16,000 acres of Idaho state endowment land dedicated to several state endowments including the public schools and the University of Idaho.
The Land Board justified its decision by stating that if the lands in question are not grazed by domestic livestock, there will be a vastly increased risk of catastrophic wildfire which would threaten the timber resources on the lease. The Board claimed that there are over $7,000,000 of timber on the state lands within the lease area. The Board did not acknowledge any unpleasant paradox between its claim of increased fire danger if IWP excludes cattle from the lease and the fact that the Idaho Department of Lands has excluded cattle from over 3,000 acres of the lease to protect recently planted trees.
Because of the decision IWP will be refunded the money paid for the first year's lease cost ($5,000), the amount paid for existing fencing on the lease ($29,000), and the $8,000 paid at the auction.
IWP will now has 28 days to consider appealing this decision to the courts.
IWP was well represented at the auction by Executive Director, Jon Marvel, and IWP attorney, Laird Lucas.