Partnership helping to keep Idaho endowment lands open for recreation

Thursday September 26, 2019

September 26, 2019

Partnership helping to keep Idaho endowment lands open for recreation
By Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller

This time of year, many Idahoans take to Idaho’s forests, rangelands and waterways to participate in
annual fall hunting, fishing and other activities. These traditions are woven into the fabric of our culture
in Idaho and help define us as Idahoans.
Idaho provides exceptional hunting and fishing opportunities, and is one of the most sought-after states
for an incredible outdoor experience. And what makes Idaho such a great place to pursue these
activities is access to public lands, as well as state endowment lands.
The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) manages nearly 2.5 million acres of endowment forest and
rangelands at the direction of the State Board of Land Commissioners. These lands are different than
federal public lands and are owned by the endowment beneficiaries, which are primarily Idaho public
Article IX, Section 8 of the Idaho Constitution mandates that these lands be managed in a way that
secures maximum long-term financial returns to the beneficiaries. In fact, because of this mandate, the
Land Board recently approved a 4.5 percent increase in endowment distributions. This sets a recordbreaking distribution of more than $84 million for fiscal year 2021.
The Land Board supports a policy of allowing general public recreational use of legally accessible
endowment land for activities like hunting. But only if those activities do not degrade the lands,
interfere with management activities, or otherwise negatively affect the long-term financial return to
A year-old agreement between IDL and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has successfully
helped ensure that access. Under this agreement, IDFG compensates IDL 25 cents per endowment acre
annually for public hunting, fishing, and other recreational land uses. This helps cover costs associated
with recreation management on endowment lands. The money comes from revenue generated from
hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses, as well as Pittman-Robertson funds, which are an excise tax on
firearms and ammunition.
The agreement satisfies the Land Board’s responsibility to provide a financial return to the beneficiaries
for land use. And IDFG is providing conservation officer services to assist with recreation enforcement to
help ensure that recreational activities do not degrade endowment land.
In addition, IDL is inventorying trails on endowment land and determining how to provide a quality trail
experience that is compatible with the endowment mission. Designated trails will soon be mapped and
signed. Undesignated trails that cause resource damage will be closed and reclaimed.
But please be aware, even with the agreement, there are a few endowment areas not open to the public
due to safety reasons or a lack of legal access.
Access to endowment land in Idaho is important to us as Idahoans, and so long as revenue-generating
activities are respected and not impacted, these lands will remain open for public access and recreation.
As the director of the Idaho Department of Lands, I am asking you to do your part to protect
endowment land while enjoying them. Working together, we can continue to enjoy hunting and other
activities, while also supporting our school children by being good stewards of these lands.
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