Valley County to enforce North Beach alcohol ban during Fourth of July


Sheriff’s office to impose blockade of boats on North Beach

Valley County commissioners on Monday pledged to enforce the ban alcohol on Payette Lake’s North Beach over the Fourth of July holiday.

The county’s action will work in tandem with recent actions by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the city McCall to rein in the partying among young adults that drew renewed complaints following last year’s holiday.

“The crowds have become unmanageable and there are numerous instances of intoxication and underage drinking, resulting in a threat to health and safety of the visitors on North Beach and to recreationists on Payette Lake,” Valley County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Kiiha said in presenting the state’s proposal to commissioners.

The state agency’s board on Feb. 11 voted to ban alcohol at Ponderosa State Park’s North Beach over the holiday for three years.

The McCall City Council has agreed to ban alcohol at all city parks during the holiday.


The Valley County Sheriff’s office will enforce the state ban on alcohol at North Beach as well as enforce existing laws against driving boats while intoxicated.

The county also has agreed to limit parking on East Side Drive and Warren Wagon Road to hold down the size of the North Beach crowd.

The state set a 750-person cap on the beach-goers last year but the numbers grew beyond that, partly because of people arriving by boat.

This year, the county plans to set a line of buoys about 300 feet off the sand at North Beach, Sheriff’s Capt. John Coombs told the commissioners. Only swimming would be allowed there.

Kiiha said the agreement with the state has no legal effect, except the county agrees to draft ordinances that will address the problem.

There are other details to hammer out, such as whether violating the alcohol ban on the beach would result in a citation or an arrest, Coombs said.

“Do you foresee the first year freeing up any of our waterways deputies for any place else?” commissioner Bill Willey asked Coombs, who said North Beach news is spread on social media.

“There’s already been invitations sent out on Donnelly and Cascade to bring the parties there,” Coombs said. “I don’t know what this is going to bring. We have to enforce this.”