To further an appreciation and understanding of the outdoors by the youth of this state, the director is hereby authorized to enter into long-term agreements, with the written approval of the Governor, leasing unto the county board of education of any county wherein are situate lands belonging to the department of natural resources, for nominal consideration, one parcel of rural land not exceeding in size one acre for each five hundred students registered in the public schools of the county at the time of the lease. Such land shall be used by the county board of education exclusively to establish and maintain an outdoor education program and for no other purpose. By a multicounty agreement, the county boards of education of any county or counties in which no land belonging to the department of natural resources is located may join with any other county or counties in which such land is located to establish and maintain a joint outdoor education program and the combined student enrollment of the counties joining into such an agreement shall determine the maximum acreage that may be leased by the department of natural resources for such purposes.
If the department of natural resources makes a finding that land leased pursuant to this section has ceased to be used for the purposes set forth herein for a period of three consecutive years, the director shall notify the affected county board or boards of education of such a finding in writing. Upon the expiration of sixty days from receipt of said notice, such lease shall become null and void and control of such leased land shall revert to the department of natural resources unless the affected board or boards of education have petitioned the circuit court of the county wherein the land or the greater portion thereof lies for review of the said finding.
Upon petition and hearing, the said circuit court shall determine whether the land has ceased to be used for the purposes set forth in this section. Periodic or incidental use of the land for less than six months of each calendar year shall not be sufficient to support a finding that the land has ceased to be used for the purposes set forth herein. If the said circuit court determines that the land has ceased to be used for the purposes set forth herein, the court shall, by written order, declare the lease null and void and reinstate control of the leased land in the department of natural resources.