On Friday April 28, 2000, Idaho Watersheds Project filed eleven applications for over 41,000 acres of expiring Idaho school endowment land grazing leases.
The leases are located in the following counties: Clearwater (24,855 acres near Weipe), Boise (5,516 acres near Banks on the Jerusalem allotment),Owyhee (4,975 acres along the Mud Flat Road), and Cassia (6,329 acres south-east of Oakley and on Robber's Gulch Creek south of Murtaugh).
The large areas in Clearwater County are located in the Weipe Prairie where the Lewis and Clark and Nez Perce National Historic trails intersect. Much of the land under lease there is cut-over timber land where livestock are acknowledged to be a major cause of the 303d stream pollution listing for Jim Ford Creek and for which over $200,000 in EPA 319 funds have been requested simply to fence cattle on these leases away from the creek. IWP's acquisition of the leases will eliminate the need for any fencing since livestock will be removed ! IWP also looks forward to holding these leases during the Lewis and Clark Expeditions bicentennial celebration as they can serve as an educational tool for the thousands of Americans predicted to travel the Trail. One portion of the leases in Clearwater County include segments of Lolo Creek, a critical spawning tributary of the Clearwater River's threatened ocean run steelhead trout population
If acquired by IWP and because of their sizes, the lease in Boise County and one of the leases (Robinson's Hole area) in Cassia County will result in the probable closure of the federal lands incorporated into allotment with the state lands because the Idaho state endowment lands amount to 50-80% of the total lands in the allotments. A separate lease, included in these applications also located in Cassia County, is currently leased to Joe Tugaw, former President of the Idaho Cattle Association and a notorious violator of the terms and conditions of his Forest Service grazing permit whose Forest Service permit was reduced this year for those violations.
Auctions to determine the winner of these leases will be scheduled later this summer.