A 1,000-acre former horse ranch along the Coeur d’Alene River won’t become state property after all.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game had planned to acquire Black Lake Ranch for wildlife habitat and wetlands restoration through a land swap, but opposition to the trade killed the deal.
The Fish and Game Commission voted against the swap last month, after St. Maries residents voiced concerns about the agency’s plan to trade 1,400 acres of timbered land in Benewah County for the ranch.
Even the negotiation of a public access easement on the property didn’t allay concerns from Benewah County residents, who wanted the 1,400 acres to remain publicly owned, said Chip Corsi, regional Fish and Game manager in Coeur d’Alene.
Fish and Game is still interested in Black Lake Ranch, but hasn’t identified another means of acquiring it, Corsi said.
The ranch, known for its miles of white vinyl pasture fencing, is visible to cyclists along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. Former owner Marshall Chesrown raised quarterhorses on the property. The ranch is currently owned by Minnaloosa Land Co.
Converting the ranch’s pastures back into wetlands would improve water quality in Black Lake, one of the chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene. The lake experiences toxic algae blooms during the summer.
Brandon Ferrante, whose family has owned recreational property on Black Lake since the 1970s, said he’s disappointed the ranch won’t end up in public ownership.
“The lake is the reason we’re out there,” he said. But the frequent algae blooms prevent his 3-year-old son from playing in the water, Ferrante said.
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