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The Idaho Land Board (officially the State Board of Land Commissioners) voted unanimously last week to consider strategic acquisitions of timberland and, on a more limited basis, farmland, with proceeds from the sale of residential cottage sites and commercial properties.

The Clearwater Tribune reports that responses to the proposal were mixed.

Responses were primarily neutral to supportive of IDL purchasing timberland or farmland to benefit the endowments. A few agricultural groups and individuals expressed concerns about the existing amount of public land in the state and the potential impacts to counties through loss of tax revenues if the State were to acquire additional lands. A process will be established to evaluate potential transactions for acquisition of those types of lands using proceeds from sales of cottage sites and Idaho commercial real estate properties managed by IDL.

The Land Board oversees the approximately 2.44 million surface acres (and 3.3 million mineral acres) of endowment land which is owned and operated by the state.

While the Land Board’s disposal of cottage sites and commercial properties is certainly welcome—these practices were in direct conflict with private enterprise—there is still concern that government owned farmland and timberland exists expressly to compete with private farmland and timberland within the market.

Is competing with private businesses and landowners really the proper role of government? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.