The City of McCall is continuing its fight to save Cougar Island.
At 14.21-acres, Cougar Island is the largest island in Payette Lake. In June, the Idaho Department of Lands said it would move forward with auctioning the island, which is part of Idaho’s endowment land.
“Big Payette Lake is the sole source of drinking water for our community. It is a critical resource for our community that must be protected,” the city wrote in a letter to the Idaho State Land Board.
During a special meeting, the McCall City Council unanimously voted to send two letters, one to the Valley County Commissioners, asking them to take legal action that could stop the auction. The other went to the Idaho Department of Lands, urging it to consider what they call the importance of the land before the auction.
In the letter to the county commissioners, the city starts by explaining its shared concern about losing land to recreate and the impact on drinking water, then asks them to take action.
Valley County has been working to transition all cottage sites surrounding the lake to the Payette Lakes Recreational Water and Sewer District sewer system. Developments on Payette Lake’s perimeter are required to be serviced by a Department of Environmental Quality sewer system, not septic. This is a major concern outlined in the letter.
“Extending sewer lines to the island will be difficult and extremely expensive. IDL’s ‘perc testing’ of the island as part of the appraisal process causes us great alarm because it indicates the intent for septic systems to be installed, which should not be allowed for the same reasons septic systems are not allowed on any other shoreline property of Payette Lake,” the letter said.
The city then lays out two approaches the county can take to protect Cougar Island, the first is a resolution. The resolution would need to be adopted before the state auction would declare the island in Payette Lake an “Area of Critical Concern.”
”…which then triggers environmental impact assessment requirements for your review prior to any proposed development applications,” the letter said.