Idaho Fish and Game Agreement with Timber Companies on Fee-less Recreation

If timber companies and a state agency can agree on making access to 867,000 acres of private timberland free to the public, maybe there’s a template for doing the same for federal lands.

Also included: “The access/depredation fund also pays for continued public access to 2.3 million acres of Idaho Department of Lands state endowment lands for hunting, fish, trapping and other recreation, which includes about $300,000 annually to the Department of Lands and Fish and Game providing law-enforcement services on endowment lands.”

This kind of arrangement would free the USFS and BLM from collecting fees, such as for picnic areas, which I suspect costs more than it takes in.

Idaho Fish and Game press release:

Timber companies and F&G agree to leases for public access to private timber lands 

Friday, May 17, 2019 – 3:42 PM MDT
Two lease agreements will provide public access to about 867,000 acres of private timberlands in Panhandle and Clearwater regions

A new partnership between Idaho Fish and Game and PotlatchDeltic will provide and preserve public access for hunting, fishing and trapping on 567,002 acres of private land in Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho, Latah and Shoshone counties through a lease agreement.

A second agreement expected to be finalized by early June is with a group of forestland owners and managers, including Stimson Lumber Co., Hancock Forest Management and Molpus Woodlands Group, to allow public access to more than 300,000 acres in Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Shoshone and Kootenai counties.

Fish and Game will pay $1 per acre annually for the access, which includes hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, hiking and recreational travel limited to motor vehicle travel on roads open to full-sized vehicles. Restrictions on camping and ATV use may apply depending on the landowner’s rules.

“These agreements demonstrate Fish and Game’s continued commitment to putting money from the access/depredation fee to good use and provide hunters, anglers and trappers with access to private lands while compensating landowners for their support of those activities,” said Sal Palazzolo, F&G’s Private Lands/ Farm Bill Program Coordinator.

“PotlatchDeltic is pleased to partner with Idaho Fish and Game on this public access agreement. As the largest private timberland owner in Idaho, we recognize the importance of public access for recreational activities and the benefits for sportspersons and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Darin Ball, Vice President Resource, PotlatchDeltic.

The agreements came through Fish and Game’s new “large tracts” land lease program that targets multi-year access to parcels 50,000 acres or larger.

Lease agreements with all the companies will automatically renew for at least three years. Money for the leases comes from House Bill 230, which in 2017 established Fish and Game’s access/depredation fee that requires a $5 surcharge for residents and a $10 surcharge for nonresidents when they buy their first annual license of the year.

The access/depredation fund also pays for continued public access to 2.3 million acres of Idaho Department of Lands state endowment lands for hunting, fish, trapping and other recreation, which includes about $300,000 annually to the Department of Lands and Fish and Game providing law-enforcement services on endowment lands.

Fish and Game’s sportsman’s access programs also includes Access Yes!, which pays landowners to allow the public on, or through, their lands, and parcels accepted into that program go through an annual competitive bid process.

People with questions about the specifics of the PotlatchDeltic agreement can contact Fish and Game’s Private Lands/ Farm Bill Program Coordinator Sal Palazzolo at sal.palazzolo@idfg.idaho.gov, or call (208) 287-2752.

5 thoughts on “Idaho Fish and Game Agreement with Timber Companies on Fee-less Recreation”

  1. Big mistake. in the 90s, I helped manage both a public hunting and lease-fee hunting for a pre-REIT company in 2 states. One state’s DNR was filled with soak-the-rich idealistic types and the other was normal. The former was against lease-fee for hunt clubs and insisted on public access for a nominal $5 annual permit per hunter. Gates were destroyed. Trash. Limited doe harvest. The other state where we lease-fee hunted generated $20-75/acre from the hunt clubs whom helped managed the land, put in food plots, met their antlerless quota helping us regenerate, etc. Ironically we were able to show we were putting more hunters on the ground (hence more license sales for DNR) in the lease-fee hunt club state than the public hunting state. Ix-nay on wide open public access if you care about your resource.

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  2. Owl, thanks for your comments. I’m always interested in real world experiences of what kinds of relationships promote good behavior on the part of recreationists of all stripes. It’s clear the clubs wanted to keep a “good thing going” but perhaps individual recreationists don’t feel that responsibility.

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  3. Let’s see – recreation fees on FS can be used to pay for the cost of the services provided – like trash pickup, cleaning/stocking toilets, etc. So, no fees = no services = remember the latest shutdown and the effects on national parks and national forests – trash, poop, etc…been there, done that…As FS budgets stay flat and timber targets increase, guess where all of the FS funds are going? Not to recreation.

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