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Idaho Department of Lands Defend Land Swap

Benito Baeza

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Department of Lands defended a 2012 land swap being criticized by lawmakers who contend Idaho’s endowment fund was shortchanged by an inflated appraisal.

Last November, the agency exchanged 14 acres of endowment land on Payette Lake in McCall for privately-owned Idaho Falls property. The deal allowed the University of Idaho to buy the Payette Lake land where it’s run its outdoor science school for 65 years. At the time, state officials concluded both properties were worth $6.1 million.

This week, Reps. Grant Burgoyne of Boise and John VanderWoude of Nampa publicized a second appraisal, this one contending the Idaho Falls property was worth just $4.5 million. On Tuesday, Deputy Director Kathy Opp said she stands by the original valuation — and added the transaction is already boosting investment returns.

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