The state Department of Agriculture owns somewhere around 10,000 acres of land statewide, although no one knows the exact number.
Property records have lapsed into disarray over the years, but the agency is now working with Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office to get them back in order.
The Agriculture Department, along with the West Virginia Conservation Agency, is using Morrisey's office to hire outside lawyers to conduct comprehensive reviews of the agencies' property holdings.
Agriculture Department spokesman Buddy Davidson said it has been "quite some time" - at least a decade - since the department conducted a review of its property records.
"We want to take a new stock of what property the department holds and what interests we have in it," Davidson said. "Some of the properties are well documented, others need research.
"It's basically just a housekeeping function."
Agriculture Department Chief of Staff Chris Ferro said the agency is hiring outside lawyers because it does not have a staff lawyer capable of conducting the review. The Attorney General's Office also does not have a lawyer specializing in real estate law, he said.
Attorneys have until Aug. 19 to bid for the project. Ferro said he would not know how much the review would cost until the bidding process is complete.
The review will be conducted in 22 counties, including Cabell, Braxton, Kanawha and Lincoln.
Ferro said the agency likely will not be able to afford a complete review of its properties this year because of budgetary constraints, but the work should begin shortly after the agency hires an attorney.
The Agriculture Department owns a wide variety of properties, from quarter-acre lots to 3,000-acre parcels. Its farm near the Huttonsville Correctional Facility in Randolph County has 1,500 acres of tillable land, plus a 1,500-acre timber stand.
Ferro said the Agriculture Department could have mineral rights at its properties, which could serve as money-generating opportunities for the agency.