Popular hunting land closed to public access

A Texas company bought 170,000 acres in Valley, Adams and Boise counties.

McCALL -- Hundreds of hunters and many snowmobilers in Valley County are concerned about a recent land purchase.

Texas-based DF Development bought about 170,000 acres in Valley, Adam, and Boise counties. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the purchase affects a large amount of property used for controlled hunts.

Regan Berkley with Idaho Fish and Game tells us the land was privately owned before the sale, but there was an understanding that hunters could use the land. Last month, just before the season began, she said DF Development told her they would no longer be allowing trespassing.

"When I did speak with the representative with DF Development he did tell me they intend to post the land as no trespassing and prohibit public access and hunting on at least most of the land, so that's our biggest concern right now," said Berkley.

Berkley then sent out letters to more than 300 hunters who had drawn control tags in the affected areas. She says there is still public land available for hunting, but it's a big change for those used to using a certain area.

Fish and Game has posted a map on the lobby of their McCall office showing exactly where DF Development's property is located. She hopes hunters will research and understand the trespassing laws before they head out.

Berkley also says hunters do have the option to exchange their control tag. One hunt began on October 1st, and the other three begin on October 15th.

DF Development was unable to do a phone interview, but did send KTVB the following statement:

“DF Development has a long history of responsible land management and a commitment to the communities in which we operate.  At this time, we are conducting a thorough review of the land in Adams, Valley and Boise Counties, and are evaluating best uses.  We have already recommenced timber operations on these properties and will also consider other longer term initiatives including wildlife restoration and responsible community access.”

Meanwhile, there was also concern that the purchase would cut off access to snowmobile trails.

Larry Laxon is the director of Valley County Parks and Recreation. He says there have been a lot of rumors, but says the truth is most snowmobile trails won't be affected.

"It isn't going to affect snowmobiling, I've got three small roads that it might affect but we'll just pick another road to groom," said Laxon.

Laxon says they are now working to certify easements and put up proper signage. He says it's a lot of work but something that should have been done years ago. He also believes DF Development is learning how important this land for recreation.

"They are very much about sustainable logging, they love the land, want to take care of the land, they're concerned about littering around campsites, these are good people, I think they'll be great neighbors," said Laxon.

We also talked to the president of the McCall Snowmobile Club, who said he didn't think this would have a big impact on the trails. 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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