[Vision2020] State purchase of Lochsa land talks are continuing
moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Dec 27 02:25:47 PST 2018
As the geographical beauty of Idaho degenerates to . . . “I remember when . . . “
Memories will always recall . . .
Courtesy of the Idaho County Free Press at:
State purchase of Lochsa land talks are continuing
County commission ‘would not oppose’ the concept
Discussion continues on an idea that would greatly increase the amount of state land in Idaho County. The concept put forward in June by state forester David Groeschl calls for the Idaho Department of Lands to buy out Western Pacific Timber’s Upper Lochsa land, then complete a trade with the Forest Service to acquire other land in Idaho County and perhaps elsewhere in North Central Idaho. Though a Forest Service proposal for a land trade directly with WPT was called off amid an uproar several years ago, IDL’s proposal may now face a clearer path to completion.
Idaho County Commissioners Skip Brandt and Denis Duman last week signed off on a letter to Gov. Otter and the Idaho Land Board which states the county “would not oppose the concept” even though “concerned about the loss of tax dollars that ultimately benefit our schools.”
“Should the acquisition move forward, Idaho County would be interested in reviewing the details prior to taking a firm position,” the board wrote in the Dec. 11 letter, which the county CC’d to Sen. Jim Risch, which the Free Press has published online at idahocountyfreepress.com/documents.
The county had opposed the Forest Service proposal due to a potential decrease in local tax revenue that would arise from converting taxable private land to tax-exempt public land.
Last year, conservation organizations put the state’s history of selling land to private parties under heightened scrutiny. Earlier this month, IDL concluded a review of historic endowment trust land sales – in which the state sold land to private parties – to determine whether or not some land sales may have violated the state constitution.
“Idaho was granted approximately 3.6 million acres of land at statehood to generate revenue for Idaho’s public school system and other State of Idaho institutions,” IDL stated in a Dec. 4 press release. “The state’s founders decided to keep some of the lands to be held in trust to generate revenue…and to sell other lands to help settle Idaho. Idahoans passed constitutional amendments throughout history limiting the number of acres that can be sold to an individual. Approximately 2.4 million acres of endowment land remain today.”
According to the agency’s review, IDL flagged 166 names that “appear to have more than the legally allowable acres attributed to their names” out of 39,681 transactions.
“The transactions involving the 166 individuals or entities all occurred prior to 1983, with half of them occurring before 1916,” IDL noted in its press release. “It is possible some acreages in violation of the Constitution may have occurred with some of the 166 individuals or entities.”
Idaho Conservation League and the Wilderness Society – which had called attention to the state’s land sales in February 2017 – said IDL’s findings “only deepens concerns…that the Idaho Land Board may have, over a period of decades, sold state lands in a manner that violated the state Constitution.”
“The state’s tendency to liquidate state land – even to the point of breaking legal limitations – illustrates why Idahoans should be careful to keep public lands in public hands,” Idaho Conservation League government relations director Jonathan Oppenheimer said. “Ultimately, it’s everyday Idahoans who lose out when the lands they use for hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, and hiking are sold off and gated.”
IDL’s review report can be read in full online at idahocountyfreepress.com/documents or idl.idaho.gov/news-media/2018-releases/land-transaction-review-report.pdf.
IDL’s review report concludes, in part, that the agency’s “capabilities and practices have changed significantly through time.”
“That change is apparent today, as the department has turned its focus on acquiring rather than disposing of endowment lands,” the review report notes. “In the past 10 years, the department has sold only 670 acres while purchasing 5,703 acres in the same timeframe.”
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