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Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Tom Curet and Staff Fisheries Biologist Windy Davis met with the Lemhi County Commissioners Monday, May 23, to apprise them of a Pahsimeroi River Access Proposal which could mean new opportunities for hunters and anglers.

Curet said a private land owner in the Pahsimeroi Valley has asked the department if it is interested in acquiring a large acreage which would allow access to hunters and anglers as well as serve conservation purposes. The property is owned by Beartooth Capital, a Bozeman, Montana investment company. The firm purchases recreational and ranch properties, puts conservation easements on the acreages and then offers them for sporting and agriculture activities. He provided a map of the area showing the property boundaries and current usage. The river bottom corridor covers Patterson Big Springs and areas of the Pahsimeroi River. Curet said the company has also purchased the McGee/Latimer ranch with the intention of placing a conservation easement on that property.

Beartooth Capital is proposing to first transfer the property to The Nature Conservancy which in turn will give the acreage to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. A portion of the property will be sold to a third party to maintain its present agricultural production.

Curet said the department sees the transaction as a great opportunity for hunters and anglers. He said there are presently only 200 accessible acres in the entire Pahsimeroi river bottom. The donation will add around 1,080 hunter and angler accessible acres. Curet said, “It provides a unique opportunity for water fowl hunting and pheasant hunting, whitetail hunting and elk hunting.” He said that overall this will provide access to around three miles of river and creek fishing which is currently inaccessible. He told the commissioners there will be a fee in lieu of taxes therefore the transaction will not cause any change to the county’s tax base.

Davis explained the history of work the department has done in cooperation with adjacent property owners to improve stream flows and restore dewatered areas. The efforts have yielded a 40 percent increase in fish spawning rates.

Curet expects the sporting public to be very excited over having access to all the wildlife values. He said the proposed transaction is not final with several steps yet to take and that the department is working with surrounding property owner’s concerns. Curet said at this point the department thinks it is a viable plan and that by Summer or early fall the county will be updated as to the potential access status.

Bill Montero and Mike Overacker brought their upset over county plans to the County Commissioners. The county Road and Bridge Department is planning to install a holding tank for Mag Water in a rock quarry near their properties on the Moore Creek Road. The county uses the magnesium chloride for dust abatement on unsurfaced roads.

Overacker said that he granted a 50 foot easement/right-of-way to the county 21 years ago for access to the Overacker/Ziegler rock quarry from which the county was getting rock by way of another route. The agreement was the county would build and maintain a road to access the quarry as well as property owned by Overacker in exchange for the easement. Montero said the county now wants to install a Mag Water tank which Overacker said was not part of the access/easement agreement. Overacker said the plan amounts to an extension of the originally agreed upon easement use.

The two men said the increased amount of truck traffic on the road as well as the visual impacts will decrease property values and that any spillage from the tank could impact Montero’s well. They recommended the county use land at the Industrial Park for its Mag Water tank. Overacker said the county should have informed him of the plan and asked for a change of right-of-way before beginning to implement it.

The commissioners confirmed that the quarry can be accessed by way of the original road.

As to the reason for choosing that location Road and Bridge Supervisor Kerrie Cheney said there is room for the tank and it is the best site in terms of mileage involved in distribution. He also said the tank will have a spill containment system that will hold every gallon in the tank plus a percentage over that amount.

Overacker maintained the existing easement does not cover what the county is planning.

Commissioner Rick Snyder said the easement will be given to County Attorney Bruce Withers for review and in an effort to be a “good neighbor” he asked the Road and Bridge Department to hold off any further action until the issue is resolved. Road and Bridge was also asked to research other possible staging areas where the Mag Water could be stored.

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