BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s state lands manager on Friday asked a legislative committee to approve $500,000 for a pilot program that would allow specific types of timber to be separated and sold when harvested from state land.
Currently, all trees cut from a particular parcel are included in auctions.
Breaking the sales into specific types of trees could result in more competition and higher bids, bringing more money for a particular timber sale, officials said.
The program would start with about 1% of state timber sales and potentially increase to about 10%. Only areas with a suitable mix of tree species would likely provide benefits from such sales.
Washington and Montana have started similar programs with some success.
“We want to test the water here and really explore this to see if we can run with this to generate that additional revenue,” Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller told lawmakers on a budget panel.
The state has about 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of public land. About 90% of the money generated from those state lands comes from timber sales, with most of the money going to public schools, or about $85 million last year.
Miller also told lawmakers the agency has improved its methods for determining how much timber is on state land. He said it adds up to about 10 billion board feet. A board foot is 1 foot (.3 meters) by 1 foot (.3 meters) by 1 inch (2.5 centimeters).
Ideally, Miller said, the inventory should be reduced to less than 6 billion board feet. As a result, the agency is planning to ramp up timber harvest to 328 million board feet annually by 2024.
The Lands Department overall is seeking a budget of about $65 million. Only about $6 million of that is from the general fund, while about $7 million is federal money.
The budget committee will start setting budgets in another several weeks.