- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is reconsidering its land lease policies after years of denying requests from groups looking to set up publicly inaccessible hunting operations.

The Idaho Department of Lands has denied six previous proposals, and officials are expecting a request from a group looking to set up pheasant hunting on endowment land in the eastern part of the state, the Spokesman-Review reported (https://bit.ly/1YvohfD ).

“It probably goes without saying: Idahoans love the outdoors, they love their access,” said department spokeswoman Emily Callihan.

Officials are concerned with balancing public use with the state’s mandate to get a maximum return on endowment land, which largely supports Idaho schools.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney says there may be ways for the state to generate revenue without barring public access.

“It’s something that we definitely need to look at, because our fiduciary responsibility is to get the highest return,” he said. “There may be some ways we can get revenue for the state and still have it be totally open.”

Gov. Butch Otter says these problematic leases have to be managed for maximum financial gain.

State law, however, says charging user fees makes Idaho liable for claims that result from people using endowment lands for recreation. Leases with other state agencies avoid that.

Idaho has 20 active permits and leases to outfitters using endowment lands without barring the public. Otter has asked Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to review legal issues on endowment land.

“We charge a fee for snowmobiles, and we’re not required to go out and say, ‘Hey, this is an avalanche area,’” he said.

State Land Board staff members are reviewing the agency’s options.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com


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