Payette Land Trust (PLT) and the owners of the Stone House located on Cougar Island have agreed on a conservation easement designed to limit future development and commercial uses on the 2.52-acre property. 

North of the City of McCall and at the tip of Ponderosa State Park peninsula lies Cougar Island, a tree-covered haven surrounded by the deep blue waters of Big Payette Lake.

Cougar Island is highly visible from the north end of Ponderosa State Park and from several vantage points along Warren Wagon Road, west of the island. With its high visibility, Cougar Island is key to the unique character of the area. 

PLT is proud to be a part of this year long process involving numerous members of the United Payette Coalition and local individuals working to conserve Cougar Island as it exists now. By purchasing the conservation easement, PLT helped close the transaction between the homeowners and Idaho Department of Lands. 

“While this is just one portion of the Island, we see this as a Win, Win, Win” said Craig Utter, Payette Land Trust executive director. “This is a win for PLT, the members of United Payette Coalition and area residents who have worked so diligently for the past year to conserve Cougar Island as it exists now. It’s a win for an Idaho family that wanted to own the land under their home, a home they have owned for over 10 years. It’s a win for the State Endowment, the sale will add over $2 million to the Endowment Fund.”

The property was one of five Lots presented for sale at the Idaho Department of Lands September 14th Cougar Island auction. The property is held under the State of Idaho’s Endowment Trust. 

Only one of the five properties received a bid at auction. The bidder was the owner of the Stone House and the lessee of the Lot. With the sale, the 2.52-acre property moves into private ownership while the other four Island Lots remain in Endowment ownership.

Payette Land Trust (PLT) works with families in Adams, Idaho, Valley and Washington counties to further their conservation ethics, working to balance conservation and development in the region. PLT believes in conserving the rural landscape of West Central Idaho for the benefit of our community and future generations. 

Currently, PLT owns two properties and holds 13 conservation easements on private land. 

To learn more about PLT and its work in the West Central Mountains of Idaho, visit