Land Office Going Digital to Try Boosting Lease Revenue

Jan 13, 2020

Hoping it will increase revenues, the acting secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office wants to implement an online system for surface lease auctions.
Credit Commissioners of the Land Office

The head of the agency managing Oklahoma's school trust land says they can do a much better job when it comes to getting lease revenue.

The Commissioners of the Land Office can offer surface leases at auction, but more than 100,000 of the 750,000 acres the agency oversees is up for grabs each year, and interested parties typically have to go check out sites for themselves.

Acting Secretary Brandt Vawter said the land office is starting to compile drone footage and full data sets on land for an online system.

"As we continue to try to bring in new bidders for different uses — commercial use, hunting, farming — we’ve also been trying to market those products better," Vawter said.

The goal is an online auction system sportsmen, ranchers and others can use to research options from the comfort of their homes.

"I’m a hunter, and it’s overwhelming to think we have over 100,00 acres every year in our surface auctions, and how do you even begin to break down, 'OK, where would I go?' And then, 'How much would it cost?' And we have all of that data," Vawter said.

Lease revenues go into nine trust funds that benefit public buildings or education in Oklahoma, with elementary, middle and high schools receiving the bulk of the funding.