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Mark specializes in natural resource and environmental economics.


Conservation Leasing and Potential on Idaho’s State Trust Land


ECONorthwest analyzed the supply and demand for ecosystem services on Idaho State Trust Lands.

The Challenge

The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners (Commissioners) oversees the management of about 2.5 million acres of state trust land in Idaho. The primary goal of their land management strategy is revenue generation and in 2010, their assets generated 48.3 million dollars in revenue, namely from timber; real estate; and mineral, oil, and gas leases.

While these lease classes generate significant revenue for the trust beneficiaries, if not managed properly, they can degrade the environment. 

As it stands now, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of Idaho’s trust lands are leased for conservation purposes and they make up a small share of the overall revenue from trust lands. Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), the agency charged with managing Idaho’s trust lands, asked ECONorthwest to investigate opportunities to increase revenue from conservation programming on these lands. 

The Results

ECONorthwest collaborated with Watershed Professionals Network and Environmental Incentives to identify strategies to capture revenue from the sale of conservation-based services, also called ecosystem services, on state trust land.

We used a three-pronged approach to answer this question. First, we used Geographic Information Systems technology to identify IDL parcels that could provide ecosystem services. Second, we personally contacted dozens of conservation groups, state agencies, and other organizations across Idaho to identify where both current and potential future demand for ecosystem services exists. Finally, we analyzed ways to develop the regional market for these services on IDL land.

The intersection of supply and demand reveals potential areas of untapped revenue. We provided IDL with concrete strategies to capture this potential. Each strategy summarized the demand for and supply of a particular ecosystem service package and described the market mechanisms IDL could use to realize the transaction.

Interested in learning more about how ECONorthwest can help you with your next project? Our toolbox is full and our staff enjoy meeting new challenges.

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