Seven Year Battle Ends with Victory for Idaho Watersheds Project


On Tuesday morning July 11, 2000, the Idaho Land Board, by a 3-2 vote, awarded Idaho Watersheds Project a ten year grazing lease for a 640 acre parcel of Idaho school endowment land on Lake Creek in Custer County, Idaho after the third auction won by IWP for this lease was appealed by rancher Gary Ingram, the low bidder (Ingram had bid $100. to IWP's bid of $2,000.).

This lease is the very first grazing lease applied for by Idaho Watersheds Project in September of 1993 and it includes over one mile of Lake Creek, an important rearing stream for chinook salmon and steelhead trout both of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Lake Creek may also provide habitat for bull trout another listed fish species. In past years the stream had been very seriously damaged by abusive livestock mismanagement.

Over the last seven years IWP has been denied this lease twice before by the Land Board. In one case rancher Will Ingram refused to bid against IWP (which won the lease with a bid of $30.00) but was awarded the lease anyway and after the Supreme Court of Idaho ordered another auction, rancher Gary Ingram (Will's son) bid $10 to IWP's $2,000. but was still awarded the lease. In each case IWP had pursued legal action and in the process won unanimous precedent setting decisions from the Idaho Supreme Court which established once and for all that the Idaho Land Board cannot establish a preference for ranchers in the leasing of school trust lands.

IWP looks forward to protecting this important fishery and wildlife habitat area for the next ten years !

The votes for IWP on the Land Board came from State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Howard; Idaho Attorney-General Al Lance, and State Controller J.D. Williams; in opposition were Secretary of State, Pete T. Cenarrusa, a sheep rancher and Acting Governor (currently Lieutenant Governor and a Congressional candidate this year) C.L. "Butch" Otter who was formerly married to a daughter of J.R. Simplot who is the largest public lands rancher in the United States. Readers might care to contact "Butch" through his web site: to inquire how his vote comports with his long-term free-market libertarianism !

IWP was ably represented at the Land Board hearing by Board member Gene E. Bray.