Eye On Boise

Decision delayed on river dispute

Gov. Butch Otter presides over a meeting of the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday. At the far left is Secretary of State Ben Ysursa; at right is state Controller Donna Jones. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Gov. Butch Otter presides over a meeting of the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday. At the far left is Secretary of State Ben Ysursa; at right is state Controller Donna Jones. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

What often is a routine transaction for the state Land Board - turning over title to newly uncovered land along a river to the adjacent landowner when the river's channel moves - turned into a big controversy when the state was looking at a parcel of often-flooded riverfront land adjacent to a Washington developer's property along the Snake River north of Buhl. Numerous residents of the area who duck-hunt along the river have protested the move, though it would have required a 25-foot-wide permanent public access easement along the river. The landowner, Daniel Miller, told the Land Board today that the 2.26 acres is wetland and he won't be developing it anyway; he suggested anyone accessing it now may be going through his orchard, which is posted with "no trespassing" signs. Neighbors retorted that they access the area only from their own property and public lands along the river.

"I am not comfortable making a decision on this matter today," said Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. "I need to go take a look at this site," and get more information, he said. "Bring your waders, because you'll need 'em," advised Philip Smith Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Buhl who was among those testifying against the land transfer. Said Wasden, "I will bring my waders." The Land Board voted unanimously to delay a decision until no later than Aug. 1.




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