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From The Adams County Record, Thursday, December 14, 2006, page 12

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  • grfranklin53
    ADAMS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING Land Swap to benefit Tamarack Resort Perry Whitaker and Sheldon Keafer of the Idaho Department of Lands gave the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2006
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      ADAMS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING

      Land Swap to benefit Tamarack Resort

      Perry Whitaker and Sheldon Keafer of the Idaho Department of Lands
      gave the Commissioners an update on a proposed land swap between
      their agency and the U.S. Forest Service. If the swap goes through,
      the Idaho Department of Lands would then lease the lands it receives
      to the Tamarack Resort in Donnelly. According to Whitaker, the
      Department of Lands began work on this particular swap in September
      2005. The session also was attended by U.S. Forest Service Council
      District Ranger Mary Farnsworth.

      Whitaker noted that the Department of Lands works under the Idaho
      Board of Land Commissioners, and its mandate is to generate revenue
      from its lands both for public schools and other beneficiaries of
      the land endowment. As part of this process, the Department has
      frequently swapped land with the U.S. Forest Service, though
      Whitaker noted it has been several years since such a swap was done
      in the local area.

      Whitaker reported that the Department of Lands is looking to acquire
      lands in the West Mountain area. He stated that most of the land
      it's seeking are on the eastern side, in Valley County, but that
      some lands are in Adams County as well. He estimated there are
      approximately 2,400 acres of Forest Service land in Adams County
      under consideration.

      Whitaker stated that the process is still at the stage
      of "feasibility analysis." Farnsworth pointed out that from the
      Forest Service's perspective, the logistics of the analysis are
      complicated by the fact that five different forests are involved
      (Sawtooth, Salmon, Challis, Boise, and Payette), but that the goal
      is to complete their analysis by early spring. Farnsworth noted that
      the package offered by the Department of Lands is attractive insofar
      as it would create "land blocks," with a number of the parcels in
      designated wilderness areas. In general, the parcels in wilderness
      areas have no access or limited access and as such don't fit with
      the Department of Lands' mandate to generate income, but would fit
      with the Forest Service's mandate for preservation. Nonetheless,
      Farnsworth stated the swap needs to be considered holistically
      including its potential impact on the public.

      Commissioner Judy Ellis expressed some concerns about the swap, and
      asked if these lands were leased by the State to Tamarack Resort,
      would the public be excluded from using them for snowmobiling,
      hunting, firewood gathering and similar activities.

      Sheldon Keafer stated that as the Department of Lands' current lease
      with Tamarack is structured, the resort can exclude uses that
      interfere with its operations. Keafer did state that currently
      Tamarack makes no such exclusions other than excluding snowmobiling
      on the actual ski runs. Keafer and Commissioner Mike Paradis both
      stated that Tamarack has generally worked well with the snowmobile
      community. There was also some discussion about how lands in Adams
      County would be used by the resort if the swap goes through as
      proposed. Both Paradis and Keafer stated it's more likely these
      lands would be used for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and
      mountain biking, since the terrain doesn't lend itself to downhill
      skiing.

      Commissioner Paradis asked about both grazing allotments and timber
      harvest in the lands under consideration. Keafer stated the State
      would look at timber harvesting and also that the Department of
      Lands is legally obliged to continue a grazing lease for some period
      of time on allotments it has received; he believed there was a l0-
      year obligation, but didn't have the specific information off hand.
      Keafer also pointed out, however, that neither grazing nor timber
      harvest meet the Department's directive of finding the "highest and
      best use" in terms of income generation. Farnsworth also noted that
      part of the Forest Service's analysis considers existing easements
      and access to lands it might swap.

      Whitaker noted that the proposed swap has decreased in size since it
      first came under consideration. He also stated that if it decreases
      further any land dropped from the swap would most likely be on the
      Adams County side.

      In a related move, the Commission is drafting a letter to request
      cooperating agency status on the Forest Service's land swap
      analysis. Valley County already has been granted this status.
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