HUNTING -- Two Idaho Panhandle land deals totaling 11,000 acres for the benefit of fish, wildlife and public access have been approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
- The purchase of 1,012 acres of private land near Black Lake, if completed, would add to the Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area. The land includes five miles of Coeur d’Alene River frontage and 3,800 feet of shoreline on Black Lake about 18 miles east of Harrison. The purchase price is $2.6 million.
- A 10,000-acre conservation easement on a 13,169-acre property known as Clagstone Meadows Ranch, which is owned by Stimson Lumber Company, will provide public access along Lake Pend Oreille. The parcel is the largest contiguous block of privately-owned land in Bonner County, and the conservation easement includes an additional 1,263 acres in two parcels on the lake's west shore at Cape Horn. Just more than 10,000 acres of this easement will provide for public access in perpetuity. The 2016 Legislature already approved spending authority for the purchase.
The value of the Clagstone Meadows/Cape Horn easement is $13.1 million, of which F&G will provide $2 million in federal Pittman-Robertson funds, officials said. The conservation easement will be jointly held by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and Department of Lands. Other cash contributions to the project include $5.5 million from the Forest Legacy Program, $2 million from a private donation through the Trust for Public Lands, and Stimson will donate $3.6 million of value to the deal.
The two land deals were approved during the Fish and Game Commission's regular meeting on Thursday in Lewiston.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department will purchase the Black Lake property with escrow proceeds from a planned sale of 1,400 acres of timber land near St. Maries for $4.6 million to Idaho Department of Lands. However, while the Department of Lands has expressed interest in the property, "the deal has not been finalized," said Roger Phillips, department information officer.
"After the exchange, that land is expected to remain open to the public under management of the Department of Lands," he said.
"Any surplus between the selling price of the St. Maries property and the cost of the Black Lake property would remain in Fish and Game’s account for land acquisition or restoration."
Commission chair Brad Corkill of Cataldo described the land purchase and sale of F&G lands to Idaho Department of Lands as “one of the most win/win situations that I’ve ever been involved with.”
Stimson’s Clagstone property is home to elk, deer, black bear, wild turkey, migratory birds, waterfowl and forest grouse. The property has historically been managed for timber production and some agricultural use.
The conservation easement would protect both the continued management of timber and the property’s fish and wildlife resources, as well as public access to most of it, Phillips said.
The Clagstone Meadows property is largely forested with priority wetlands.
Also at the Nov. 17 meeting the commission:
- Approved a land swap of 40 acres of privately owned land inside the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area for 40 acres on the perimeter to remove the inholding. Both parcels were appraised at $19,000 each.
- Decided against moving forward with a proposal to extend the waiting period to two years for hunters who draw an antlered deer or antlered elk controlled hunt. The commission in July voted to include that provision in the upcoming rules. They reversed that decision out concerns the two-year wait would not do enough to improve odds of drawing an antlered deer or elk tag, and could shift more hunters into drawings for sheep, mountain goat and moose tags, which already have very low odds.
- Approved continuing the discount of nonresident tags for black bear, mountain lion in some units and discounted nonresident wolf tags statewide. Discounts are from the regular nonresident tag price of $186 to $41.75 for bear and mountain lion, and $31.75 for wolves. Discounted bear/mountain tags are for backcountry units, including Units 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 26, 27 and portions of Units 21 and 28 within designated wilderness. The commission has discounted some nonresident tags since early 2000s.
- Approved a resolution supporting passage of the federal Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2016 (HR5650) that would dedicate up to $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies.
The intent of the bill is to modernize fish and wildlife conservation funding by using existing royalties from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands to expand the funding base and ensure the full array of fish and wildlife can be sustainably managed.
The current method of financing state wildlife agencies often puts a large funding burden through license fees and federal excise taxes on hunters, recreational shooters, anglers and boaters, and is often insufficient to meet the needs of thousands of game and nongame species and their associated habitat.
Sawtooth Zone elk tags will not go on sale to nonresidents on Dec. 1 as in previous years to allow time for considering options, the commission decided. Sawtooth Zone tags have been capped since 2009 and have become extremely popular. Resident tags sold out in 54 minutes in 2016. Some options could include limiting sales to vendors and F&G offices, or distribute the tags through all methods, i.e. vendors, internet, telephone, based on historic portions of sales.
Fish and Game will seek formal public input on big game seasons in February 2017, and big game season changes for 2017-2018 will be adopted in March 2017.