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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Idaho prepares to sell or trade away Priest, Payette lake cabin sites

Idaho will start surveys and other groundwork in early June to prepare to sell off or trade away some or all of its 521 leased lakefront cabin sites, including more than 350 at Priest Lake. Top state officials warned, however, that it's not likely to be a quick process. "It's not going to be done immediately," said Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. "No one wants to get out of this thing faster than I do. But I also have a duty of undivided loyalty to the beneficiaries. We need to do it in a manner where we will get as much as we can."

Bud Belles, president of the Priest Lake State Lessees Association, said he's disappointed by the time frame. "This is going to stretch out for years if they do it their way, and it doesn't have to," he said. "If the values go up and nothing happens, a lot of us won't be able to afford our lots ... we're going to get kicked off our lots, essentially." Belles, 70, a retired computer consultant from Nine Mile Falls, said he wants to buy the land under his cabin, which has been in his family since he was 8 years old.

Today's vote came as the state and cabin owners are facing off in court over rental rates for this year and following years; on Friday, 4th District Judge Michael McLaughlin issued a written ruling calling for a rent freeze to match 2011 rents to 2010 levels. The Land Board then filed a motion for reconsideration on Monday, saying if it had to match rents for 2011-2013 to 2010 levels, the state endowment - and Idaho's schools - would lose close to $6 million. You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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