Gov. Butch Otter has signed SB 1277a into law, authorizing the restart of land exchanges involving lake cabin sites owned by the state endowment. Exchanges of cabin sites at Priest and Payette lakes were halted earlier this year after legal questions were raised about whether the state could legally trade the sites for land that wasn’t “similar” – such as timber land, grazing land, or other property used for purposes other than summer homes. The bill says such trades are OK, but adds a limitation: The state couldn’t trade endowment land for “lands that have as their primary value buildings or other structures, unless said buildings or other structures are continually used by a public entity for a public purpose.”
The state has been trying to get out of the cabin-site renting business, after years of legal and political battles over the prime sites, on which the lessees often have had their family cabins for generations. The state Constitution requires that endowment lands be managed for the maximum long-term financial returns to the endowment’s beneficiaries, the largest of which is the state’s public schools. The new law takes effect July 1.