Recreation Access and Leasing of State Endowment Lands
(PAG Issue Brief, no. 19) The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) is trustee for 2.4 million acres of endowment lands managed for the benefit of public schools and other institutions with the constitutional mandate of maximizing long term financial return. Currently, Idaho does not charge for recreating on endowment lands, nor have endowment lands been leased for exclusive recreational purposes. Recent Land Board discussions have raised the issue of recreation on the endowment lands and its relationship to fiduciary responsibility, as well as the Board has received requests for leasing exclusive hunting rights on some endowment lands. The purpose of this report is to inform discussion in Idaho about exclusive leasing and access fees for recreation on endowment lands by comparing policies adopted in other states. Of the 18 states with trust lands for which we were able to find information, four do not allow general recreation access to the public (Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas), 10 allow general recreation access to the public without a fee (Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming), and four allow general recreation access to the public with a fee (Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Washington). Ten of the 18 states allow exclusive leasing of trust lands for recreation (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Wyoming). In four states, the state wildlife management agency pays the state land trust for hunting access (Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah). We were unable to find program cost information for any recreation permit or lease program, which would include the cost of administering permits, enforcement, and associated costs. Net revenue is therefore unknown, but in most cases reported total revenue amounts do not leave much leeway for administrative or enforcement costs before program costs would outweigh revenues.