The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved leasing the oil and gas rights for the Payette River Wildlife Management Area.
The 386-acre reserve, located on both sides of the Payette River north of New Plymouth, lies right in the middle of the area where commercial levels of natural gas were discovered in 2010. The rights will be put up for bids in an Idaho Department of Lands auction this year.
The approval of the lease for gas drilling included the stipulation that there would be no surface disturbance on the wildlife management area. Lease payments would be small, but Fish and Game would earn royalties on any natural gas extracted from the leased lands.
The area is popular among pheasant hunters who pay $23.75 annually to hunt there.