Cabin auction nets $26.9 million for schools

The state auctioned off 59 Priest Lake cabin sites Thursday, netting more than $26.9 million for schools.

Proceeds from the auctions will be deposited into a “land bank” or permanent funds, the Idaho Department of Lands said in a news release.

“The Land Board is reviewing investment strategies to determine where to reinvest the proceeds from the disposition of all cottage site lots,” the Department of Lands said in a news release.

The auctions are part of a long-term process, as the state divests itself of cabin lease sites on Priest and Payette lakes. After Thursday’s auctions, the state has sold 95 of the 534 cabin sites, and an additional 36 cabin sites on Payette Lake will be auctioned off later this year.

Fifty-eight of the lots auctioned Thursday remained in the hands of the current lessees.

More reading: Writing from Coeur d’Alene, Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review has coverage of Thursday’s auctions. Meanwhile, at the Statehouse, a legislative interim committee dives into big-picture endowment issues; here’s a link to my blog from Thursday.

Here’s the Idaho Department of Lands news release from Thursday:

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The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) auctioned 59 lakefront lots at Priest Lake for deeded ownership to the highest bidder during an auction at the Coeur d’Alene Resort today.

The land sales generated $26,903,812 for the endowment fund that supports Idaho’s public school system. The auction was historic because it was the first ever auction of lots at Priest Lake.


“The sale of dozens of Priest Lake cottage sites today is a step in the right direction for the State of Idaho,” said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, a State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) member. “We’re implementing a decision of the Land Board to the benefit of Idaho’s public schools while providing resolution for many families eager to move on from leasing the land beneath their homes.”

The auction was voluntary because the lessees – the individuals and families who lease the lots from the State but own the cabins and other personal property on the land – applied to participate and agreed to the auction of the lot they lease.

Fifty-eight of the current lessees submitted the highest bid for the lot they lease. There was competitive bidding on two of the lots. For the one lot that received the winning bid from someone other than the current lessee, the successful high bidder separately must pay the lessee for the value of the cabin and other improvements.

The funds from the land sales will be deposited in a “Land Bank” or permanent funds. The Land Board is reviewing investment strategies to determine where to reinvest the proceeds from the disposition of all cottage site lots.

To date – including today’s auction – Idaho has sold 95 or almost one-fifth of its 534 cottage site lots at Priest Lake and Payette Lake. The Land Board approved another 36 lots at Payette Lake to be auctioned later this year, and IDL will bring the Land Board recommendations for auctions of even more lots at both lakes in 2015.

The Idaho Constitution requires a public auction for the disposal of State endowment trust land by sale. In 2010 the Land Board approved a plan to divest the State’s ownership of most of the cottage sites at both lakes over time, in order to reinvest the proceeds into assets that generate higher returns than the rent from the lots.

At its December 2013 meeting, the Land Board voted to offer the 2014 auction opportunity to 74 Priest Lake cottage site lessees who were involved in land exchange proposals that were not approved. Through the process, 60 lessees ended up choosing to proceed to auction today, with one lot receiving no bids.

The IDL, under the direction of the Land Board, manages 2.4 million acres of State endowment trust land under a constitutional mandate to maximize long term financial returns.