Anti-ranching activist Jon Marvel has won a favorable decision from the Idaho Supreme Court on the first state grazing lease that he challenged three years ago.
20, Idaho's highest court ruled that the state Land Board violated
the state constitution by awarding a 640-acre grazing lease to a
Challis rancher, even though the rancher failed to bid a dime
during a public auction. Marvel had bid $30.
Supreme Court said that the Land Board, composed of the governor,
secretary of state, attorney general, state school superintendent
and state controller, must collect top dollar from state leases, as
required by the constitution.
The case has been
remanded to Blaine County magistrate court. The ruling is expected
to spur a new auction for the Lake Creek lease, a square mile of
state land that includes a salmon-bearing
"I honestly feel they should award us the
lease," Marvel said, "but that's not probable due to the political
makeup of the Land Board."
Former Gov. Cecil
Andrus was the only Land Board member to vote against awarding the
lease to rancher Will Ingram. Ingram testified in 1994 before a
packed meeting room that he did not bid any money for the lease
because he objected to a non-rancher bidding for a state grazing
Since 1993, Marvel has applied for about
25 grazing leases involving some 40,000 acres. He has never been
granted a lease.