Tribe working to put land into reservation trust

COEUR d’ALENE — The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is working to place roughly 370 acres of land it owns on the reservation back into its reservation trust.

The six parcels of land, which the tribe purchased from late Silver Valley business mogul Harry Magnuson over a decade ago, is mostly waterfront property located between Windy Bay and 16-to-1 Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

“There are no plans on the books for that property yet,” said Heather Keen, public relations director for the tribe. “We are putting it into trust mainly for jurisdictional purposes.”

For years, there have been rumors of that land being developed as a waterfront extension of the tribe’s Coeur d’Alene Casino, another golf course, or nature preserve and cultural center.

“Really, the only planned use we have for it right now is wildlife conservation,” she said.

As the land sits now, the tribe has a limited amount of jurisdiction over the property when it comes to issues such as law enforcement, but the property is still subject to county and state laws.

“This will allow the tribe to implement its own land use and environmental regulations on that land,” Keen said.

Kootenai County Commissioner Todd Tondee said it won’t make any difference to the county in terms of tax revenue because state law doesn’t allow the county to tax any property owned by the tribe.

“We are not going to oppose it,” Tondee said. “The tribe has been a good partner with the county. We don’t want to get in the way of them trying to get their land back.”

Even though the tribe is tax exempt, Tondee said they contribute almost $9 million a year to various projects throughout the county, including the CityLink bus system, and payments to schools all over the county in lieu of taxes.

“Their clinic also provides healthcare to the indigent population in the south end of the county,” Tondee said. “And that’s huge, if they didn’t provide those services, we would be on the hook for that too.”

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Coeur d’Alene Agency is handling the land conversion. Robin White, acting superintendent of that office, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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