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Tribe offers $2.4M to buy lake property, support education

Washington State University has reached an agreement to sell Camp Roger Larson to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe for $1.4 million, plus a $1 million fund from the tribe to be paid over five years to WSU to support Native American educational programs.

The sales agreement is subject to final approval by the WSU Board of Regents. The agreement will be on the agenda for the regents’ Sept. 10 meeting in Seattle.

“I am very pleased with this agreement, and we are looking forward to working with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe on this important initiative,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins.

Tribal officials are meeting with WSU administrators to determine what programs will be developed with the funds provided by the tribe for the educational partnership. Among the ideas under consideration are scholarship funding and programs both at the tribal lands and at the WSU campus in Pullman.

“We are looking forward to working with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to develop educational opportunities and programs that enrich the lives of tribal members and contribute to the well-being of the tribal community. These efforts will continue in the same spirit of service that marked the vision and dedication of Roger Larson and enhanced the lives of the many who enjoyed this camp,” said WSU Provost Robert Bates.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is pleased with the purchase of Camp Larson and also with the commitment that WSU has shown to the tribe’s culture, heritage and educational goals,” said Coeur d’Alene tribal chairman Ernie Stensgar. “Our plan is to utilize the facility in a variety of ways that include traditional and social activities as well as learning and healing – a source for the renewal of our spiritual strength.”

Camp Larson was very important to our college. Now we are looking forward to a rebirth of that facility through the Coeur d’Alenes and hope to continue to work with the tribe on educational opportunities that will benefit their people,” said WSU College of Education Dean Judy Mitchell.

The site includes 40.55 acres on Cottonwood Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene near Worley, Idaho. Seven of the acres are developed with 25 buildings – cabins, a dining hall, recreation and administration buildings – and a boat dock.

In March 2003, WSU officials announced the closure of the camp. At the time, university officials cited the poor condition of the camp facilities. The WSU Office of Business Affairs estimates the current cost of bringing the facilities up to minimum standards and making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements would be $5 million. Liability concerns also were a factor in the decision.

The camp was named for former director Roger C. Larson, a long-time WSU physical education faculty member. Over the years it has served as a camp for youth with handicaps and for teacher training. Before the camp’s closure, WSU’s College of Education had managed it since 1955.

“Roger Larson built a camp for children that served the needs of the handicapped community for over three decades. Our family lived and worked at the camp during that entire time, and we are saddened by its closure. But we are also pleased that the university has chosen a way for Roger’s legacy of helping people to live on through the provision of educational assistance for Native Americans,” said Christine Larson, daughter of Roger Larson.

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