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If you went to public school in Idaho, endowment lands helped fund your education. Those lands are funding schools today, and vital public services provided by eight other beneficiaries. If you pay taxes in Idaho, the amount is decreased because of endowment land revenue. If you or someone you know works in the timber industry, those workers – as well as the greater economy – have benefited from endowment lands. Many people also enjoy managed camping and trail use on these lands.

Idaho’s constitution charges the State Board of Land Commissioners with managing the endowment lands for the beneficiaries. The Board delegates its stewardship and daily management responsibilities to the Idaho Department of Lands.

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When Idaho became a state, Congress granted Idaho endowment trust land for the sole purpose of funding specified beneficiaries, which are largely public schools. Idaho’s original land grant included 3,650,763 acres. Since then, ownership has been consolidated and some land has been sold, with the proceeds reinvested. This land forms the core of a perpetual trust, with the land generating revenue for nine endowment beneficiaries forever. There are now nearly 2.5 million acres of Endowment Land in Idaho.

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Located Near Every Idaho Community

At statehood Idaho received sections 16 and 36 of each thirty-six square mile township to support public schools, plus additional sections for the other beneficiaries. This resulted in the ownership pattern initially being scattered across a checkerboard pattern. You can see the exact locations of all endowment lands on our interactive GIS maps.

Serving the Beneficiaries Financial Needs First

Endowment lands impact all of us in one way or another. But it’s the beneficiaries that have our undivided loyalty. This loyalty is core to the constitutional purpose of endowment lands. No matter how desirable a competing interests may be, we are constitutionally bound not to be swayed by anything that is not in the best financial interest of the beneficiaries.

Sole Mission to Produce Maximum Revenue

Endowment lands differ from other public lands. They are managed solely to generate revenue for the beneficiaries. Other public land managers have different missions. For endowment land, any use besides generating revenue is secondary because the Land Board, in its capacity as a trustee, must act with undivided loyalty in the interest of the beneficiaries.
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It's All About the Mission

Idaho accepted endowment lands at statehood under the condition that they be managed, in perpetuity, to secure the maximum long-term financial return for the beneficiaries. Endowment lands are different than other public lands. Public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service serves a multiple-use mission. Endowment lands, on the other hand, serve a sole-use mission to earn money for the beneficiaries. Other uses of endowment lands are incidental to the mission.
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The Land Where Miracles Grow

The year 1889 saw a 28-day debate by leaders to frame Idaho’s new state constitution.  One of the central agreements written into it was that the 3.6 million acres of land offered to Idaho by Congress would be dedicated to nurturing the state's public education system. One has to wonder if our forefathers foresaw the legacy they would establish for our state's investment in education and what it would mean to future generations of Idahoans.
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