GRANGEVILLE — A proposal by the Bureau of Land Management to purchase a 520-acre parcel of private land near the Little Salmon River has been pulled after the Idaho County commissioners opposed the transaction.

In a letter to the commissioners late last week, Richard White, field manager for the BLM office at Cottonwood, said the BLM is no longer considering buying the Dempsey Flat parcel.

“I recognize that loss of private lands within Idaho County is always a concern to the commission,” White wrote. “It is not the BLM’s intention to acquire lands for the sake of adding federal acreage and that is not an authorized purpose of (Land and Water Conservation Fund) appropriations. LWCF supports the protection of federal public lands and waters and voluntary conservation on private land.”

Commissioner Denis Duman said the commissioners are “elated and hope that they will stop purchasing private property and taking it off the tax base.”

The commissioners expressed their disapproval of the BLM proposal in August, saying the exchange would have been the third turnover from private to public property within the county this year.

“At what point are we just not going to have any private land in Idaho County?” asked Commission Chairman Skip Brandt. “How much access do we need around here? We can’t stand it anymore.”

The commission noted that 85 percent of Idaho County is already owned by the federal or state governments and that the continued shift from private property to public land further erodes the county’s ability to raise money and fund services.

The purchase was estimated to cost $1,200 an acre and would have been supported by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It was intended to allow public access to adjacent public property owned by the bureau and the Idaho Department of Lands. But it would have removed the parcel from the tax rolls and cost Idaho County about $525 a year in tax revenue.

In White’s letter to the commissioners, he said the LWCF investments “secure public access, improve recreational opportunities and preserve ecosystem benefits for local communities.”

“Criteria such as providing access to previously inaccessible private lands, protection of cultural and/or historic properties, and access to the lower Salmon River corridor would be examples of attributes that our office would consider pursuing through LWCF acquisitions,” White said.

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.

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