Idaho officials are looking to expand the number of participants in auctions for state lands and potentially bring in more money by allowing remote bidding.
The announcement by the Idaho Department of Lands on Wednesday comes ahead of an Aug. 13 auction in Coeur d'Alene for 10 cottage sites at Priest Lake in northern Idaho and an auction this fall for a 14-acre "high-end" island in Payette Lake near the vacation and second-home town of McCall in west-central Idaho.
"The former live auction process limited participation to those who could attend in person," Jim Elbin, the department's division administrator for Trust Land Management, said in a statement. "Remote bidding may increase competition at endowment auctions, helping us better meet our constitutional mandate to maximize the return for our endowment beneficiaries."
The Priest Lake lots can be viewed online at Corbett Bottles Real Estate Auctions and Proxibid and the Idaho Department of Lands.
The department is overseen by the Idaho Land Board comprised of the governor and four other statewide elected officials. The state constitution requires the Land Board to maximize financial return over the long term, benefiting mainly public schools.
Statewide, the Land Board directs the Idaho Department of Lands in managing about 3,900 square miles of state-owned land. The big revenue producer on those lands is timber.
The decision to use remote auctions comes at a time when the Land Board is facing increasing pressure to sell lands that have skyrocketed in value, outpacing the value of keeping the land as an ongoing asset. But state land, especially in the McCall area, is also prized as public land accessible to outdoor recreationists.
Idaho has been selling hundreds of residential home sites in recent years as it gets out of the business of leasing that land. The move began amid concerns the state wasn’t getting fair-market value for the leases.