Avista, on behalf of the 26 signatories to the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, has finalized the acquisition and transfer of a 125-acre parcel of land on Upper Gold Creek in Bonner County to complete an exchange with the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) for property along Trestle Creek that Avista can use in bull trout restoration projects.
The land exchange agreement, approved in November by the Idaho Land Board, allowed IDL to transfer ownership to Avista of 120 acres on Trestle Creek near Lake Pend Oreille, in exchange for the Upper Gold Creek parcel.
Trestle Creek has been identified as critical habitat for bull trout, with the highest number of bull trout redds (10-year average of 258 redds) of any tributary to Lake Pend Oreille. This acquisition will complement the ongoing efforts of Avista, Idaho Fish and Game and others to protect and restore the Lake Pend Oreille bull trout populations.
IDL, whose mission is to generate revenue for Idaho trust programs such as schools, was limited in its ability to manage timber on the Trestle Creek parcel. Steep, unstable slopes, and Idaho Forest Practices rules for protecting water quality and fish habitat, make the site more expensive to safely harvest timber.
Avista plans to use the Trestle Creek land for bull trout protection and restoration as part of implementation of the Clark Fork Project License and Settlement Agreement. Avista’s Clark Fork Project includes Noxon Rapids Dam in Montana and Cabinet Gorge Dam in Idaho. The Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, signed in 1999, is a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources of the area. The stakeholder group plays an active role in shaping the natural resource activities associated with the Project, and approved the land exchange. These stakeholders will also be involved in creating a management plan for the property, to be developed during the next year.
“This land exchange is another example of how people can come together and make good things happen for our environment and our communities,” Tim Swant, Clark Fork Project Manager for Avista, said. “The State of Idaho, Ceda-Pine and Avista, as well as the various stakeholders involved, worked together to reach a positive outcome for all involved.”
Avista purchased the Gold Creek land from Ceda-Pine Veneer, Inc., a private timber company in Samuels, Idaho.
“Ceda-Pine Veneer has always recognized its responsibility to manage resources wisely, with a keen eye on the environment.” said Dan Malloy, the company’s president. “In fact, we’ve been deeply involved for years in bull trout recovery discussions and we’re thrilled this opportunity came along to be a part of the actual process toward that end.”
The Gold Creek parcel, which will become state-owned school trust land, is accessible and has good prospects for logging, which will make it more useful to the Idaho Department of Lands. The IDL and the Idaho Land Board are mandated constitutionally to maximize revenues for beneficiaries like the public schools, the University of Idaho, Idaho State University and Lewis Clark State College.
“This was a win-win trade for all involved. Our mission is to produce revenue for our beneficiaries, primarily the public school system. We are excited to acquire a parcel with gentle slopes, excellent site quality, and income generating ability, and at the same time further bull trout recovery efforts,” said Idaho Department of Lands Director George Bacon.
The 125-acre Gold Creek parcel was appraised at $631,500, while the Trestle Creek land appraised at $615,600. The difference, $15,900, was paid to Avista by the Idaho State land bank fund, and then transferred to Ceda-Pine at the time of the sale.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides electric service to 355,000 homes and businesses and natural gas to 312,000 homes and businesses in three Western states, serving more than 492,000 customers. Avista’s primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol “AVA.” For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2009.
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