Yesterday morning (1/11/00) the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners awarded two ten year grazing leases on Idaho school endowment lands to Idaho Watersheds Project.
These are the first leases ever awarded to IWP and come after six and a half years of protracted political and legal battles between IWP and the Land Board and the Idaho Legislature including four unanimous decisions in IWP's favor from the Idaho Supreme Court . This victory is a remarkable occasion considering the extraordinary fight and expenditure of legal, monetary and political resources to protect public lands ranchers from having to compete for valuable public resources. This event is yet another sign of the inexorable decline of both the political clout and economic status of public lands ranching; another "nail in their coffin"!
The two leases awarded to IWP are 777 acres on Cottonwood Creek three miles from Boise, Idaho and 450 acres on Poison Creek in Blaine County. IWP won an auction for the former and was the only applicant for the latter lease. The Board deferred action on the two 5700 acre leases on Lime Creek which IWP also won at auction last fall for one month at the request of Land Board member Idaho's Secretary of State, Pete Cenarrusa, after a motion was made and seconded to award those two additional leases to IWP. IWP anticipates receiving those leases in February.
One lease for 2560 acres in the Mountain Springs allotment permitted to centimillionairess, Mary Hewlett Jaffe, was awarded to the Mountain Springs ranch which was the low bidder (by $1,000.) at an auction in September last year. The Land Board took the extraordinary step before awarding this lease to the low bidder of adopting a policy change at the meeting Tuesday to clarify their authority for awarding a lease to a low bidder. IWP will consider appealing this decision to the courts.
All in all it was a great day!