On Thursday, October 7, 1999 Idaho Watersheds Project won two auctions in Gooding, Idaho for Idaho school endowment land 10 year grazing leases which had been thrown out by the Idaho Supreme Court in April 1999.
These two leases are contiguous and include 3,900 acres in the South Fork of Lime Creek watershed in Camas County, Idaho. This watershed is currently being inventoried by the Forest Service, BLM, and the Idaho department of Fish and Game for the presence of Bull Trout which is currently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Livestock owned by the current permittee (Diamond A Livestock of Gooding, Idaho which is one of the largest Forest Service permittees in Idaho) have degraded the main stem of the South Fork of Lime Creek and various colorfully named tributaries such as Hearn, Ear, Roanhide, Hole-in-Wall, McCarter, Nettie and Salt Log Creeks. This degradation is acknowledged by the Idaho Department of Lands in their assessment of current conditions on the lease.
IWP won the smaller of the two leases with a high bid of $750.00 (1,300 acres) and the larger (2,600 acres) with a high bid of $1,800.00. The bidding was spirited. IWP has been informed that Diamond A Livestock does not propose to appeal the auction instead they will rely on Open Range Law to permit them to trespass their cattle on the lease if it is awarded to IWP.
IWP has proposed a management agreement with the Forest Service (which has historically managed these state lands as part of the much larger Middle Fork/Bremner Allotment) which will reduce Diamond A's Forest Service permit by 150 cow/calf pairs. The Fairfield Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest Service has already indicated a willingness to initiate such a cut in numbers of livestock when IWP holds the lease!
The Idaho Land Board (which consists of the state's 5 highest elected officials) will address this and all other auctions IWP has participated in this year at the regular November meeting on the 9th of that month.