The House Resources and Conservation Committee approved Wednesday a modified bill that allows businesses to lease state land for up to 49 years.
The bill, which was proposed on behalf of Ridgeline Energy, a wind turbine company looking to expand its operations in southern Idaho, would permit commercial leases on state land for up to 49 years. Currently, only leases for use of stone, coal, oil, gas or other minerals can be longer than 10 years.
The amended bill extends 10-year leases for businesses involved with the Conser-vation Reserve Enhancement Program, a joint state and federal plan that aims to conserve water by paying farmers not to irrigate. In exchange for keeping land dry, farmers collect about $130 per acre for 15 years, or about $150,000 total.
“This is a win-win-win-win situation,” said Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, who will sponsor the bill.
The proposal allows for decisions over public-land leases to be made on a case-by-case basis by the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners, which consists of Gov. Butch Otter, State Controller Donna M. Jones, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Secretary to the Board George Bacon.
By Statehouse reporter Jared S. Hopkins.
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