Camp Easton deal dies

Inland Northwest Council, developer end land swap discussions

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COEUR d'ALENE - The proposed land swap of a historic Boy Scout camp, a plan that had garnered litigation and a scout protest march, won't be happening.

The Boy Scouts of America Inland Northwest Council announced on Wednesday that the council and a luxury developer have ended discussions over the proposal to exchange Camp Easton on Lake Coeur d'Alene for a new camp at a different site.

"We were committed at every step to do our very best to make the right decision for our organization," states a letter posted on the INC website on Wednesday from Tim McCandless, INC scout executive and CEO, and Barry Baker, council president.

McCandless couldn't be reached for further comment.

The letter doesn't explain why discussions were terminated with Discovery Land Company, the developer behind Gozzer Ranch.

The document only states that council leadership had approached "with an open mind" DLC's offer to acquire the camp's 383 acres at Gotham Bay. Under the proposal, the developer would have compensated by building a replacement camp for the scouts at Sunup Bay, with a $2.5 million endowment fund.

"We appreciate Discovery Land Company's efforts, and are pleased to have had the opportunity to examine this proposal," the letter reads.

Now, the document adds, the council plans to focus on upgrading the current camp site "to make it the best and safest camp possible now and in the future."

The council will soon be launching a capital campaign for the 82-year-old camp, it states.

The funds will be used to construct a tunnel under Highway 97, which runs through Camp Easton and has raised safety concerns.

Other plans "to enhance the camping experience" will likely include improved infrastructure, better staff housing, better headquarters and new program features, the letter states.

According to literature the INC had released during analysis of the land swap, the tunnel construction and general infrastructure improvements would cost $1.2 million.

The council's letter includes a statement from INC board member and Hayden Mayor Ron McIntire, "Now that the decision's made, we need everyone who supports Camp Easton to step up and donate, to make Camp Easton the best and safest camp for scouts."

To make a donation, the letter states, go to www.nwscouts.org/campeastoncampaign.

Although a council survey tallied a 65 percent approval of the proposed land exchange, there was still vocal opposition from scouting constituents in North Idaho.

Some regretted losing a long-beloved site with a desirable sandy beach. Others were upset to give up infrastructure built with hefty donations.

Nonprofit Camp Easton Forever, Inc. formed to file a lawsuit to halt the exchange. After a district judge ruled against the entity in May, the nonprofit recently appealed to the state Supreme Court.

North Idaho scouts had organized a march to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Spokane, to protest the proposal.

Members of Camp Easton Forever couldn't be reached on Wednesday evening.

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