Idaho resort buyer says agency wants him to close

The prospective owner of Red River Hot Springs says the U.S. Forest Service is trying to drive him out of business.


GRANGEVILLE — Gabrial Eagle, who said he is buying Red River Hot Springs in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest about 85 miles southeast of Grangeville, says Forest Service officials took his reservation book and other materials this month and ordered the resort to close.

Eagle says he was given no specific reason, except that there was a problem with trash. “They gave us a paper saying we’re shutting (the resort) down and everybody has to vacate because of trash,” Eagle says. “There is no trash here.”

Randy Borniger, resource assistant for the Elk City Ranger District, says an inspection found “a number of noncompliance issues.”

One had to do with a lack of proof of insurance. “I’m waiting for people to finalize the report, but the powers that be (Forest Service officials) said there was a problem, especially with the lack of insurance, and we needed to suspend operations until they resolved the issues,” Borniger says.

The resort is now owned by Robert Blake of Clarkston, Wash., but Eagle says he and his family have been in the process of buying it since November.

Red River is on Forest Service property and operated under a special-use permit administered by the agency. The buildings and other resort amenities are owned by Blake, Borniger says.

Eagle says he has been making improvements to the place, including upgrading the pool and installing a sauna.

The Forest Service officials who did the inspection, Eagle says, told him he could not allow guests until the matter was resolved.

“They took the book, and they haven’t brought it back,” Eagle says.

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