A proposal from the Idaho Department of Lands could allow the state to sell timber by species, rather than by land auction.

Idaho land managers introduced a $500,000 pilot program proposal to an Idaho legislative committee that would change the way the state runs timber auctions. Under current practices, IDL sells all timber from an auction as a single lot, regardless of what species are harvested. The new proposal would allow certain types of timber to be sold separately.

Proponents said that the change could produce higher competition among bidders, leading to higher prices overall. Similar programs are already used in Washington and Montana, and are considered successful in those states.

If approved, the rollout would be limited to a small amount of timber until its benefits can be proven. The program would initially affect about 1% of the state’s timber sales, with a possible increase to 10% at a later date.

“The pilot project will likely be one timber sale, and the location hasn’t yet been chosen,” IDL Public Information Officer Sharla Arledge said.

The proposal comes as managers for IDL said they would seek to increase timber sales in the coming years. IDL Director Dustim Miller told legislators at a budget panel that the agency wishes to harvest up to 328 million board feet per year by 2024. The goal of the change would be to reduce the state’s inventory of timber from 10 billion board feet to below 6 billion.

No decision has yet been made on the pilot project. The legislature is set to discuss budget proposals in the coming weeks.

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