Managing State Trust Lands Fiduciary Duty in the Changing West
Trust Lands and Education Funding Reports
A series of reports providing state by state information about the role of state trust land revenues and how they help meet educational needs in the various states.
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e-News alert: Building Trust
A quarterly e-news alert that shares new and innovative trust land management information and tools.
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About State Trust Lands
A familiar and dominant feature of landscapes in the West, state trust lands generally are little understood as a type of public land ownership in the United States. Yet these wide, open spaces are increasingly valued for the critical role they play in land-use planning, particularly as population growth continues to shape and transform the West.
State trust lands were first granted by Congress following the Revolutionary War to support essential public institutions in newly organized states as they entered the Union. It has been up to each state to decide how to dispose of their state trust lands. Most of the original public land grants have long since passed into private ownership. The remaining 48 million acres, however, are concentrated in the West where the size of the land grants was significantly larger, today providing a significant natural resource primarily to nine western states.
Unlike other public lands, most state trust lands are held in trust for designated beneficiaries, principally public schools. State trust land managers lease and sell these lands for a diverse range of uses to generate revenues for the beneficiaries today and for future generations. Proceeds are distributed into a state’s permanent fund and used for many purposes – ranging from school loans to teacher salaries.
Trust Lands in the American West provides a detailed exploration of the historical background and legal framework of state trust lands in western states. Read more about:
State Trust Lands in the West: Fiduciary Duty in a Changing Landscape, a Lincoln Institute Policy Focus Report, highlights opportunities for adapting management strategies for state trust lands in the changing West which honor the unique purpose of their past and future roles.
Patient Capital and School Trust Real Estate Programs examines how school trusts that sell land for urban development may financially benefit by being patient and holding land for the long term, rather than selling it for short-term gains.
State Trust Lands: The Ecosystem Services Report explores how state trust land managers may be able to take advantage of conservation and restoration payments and incentives offered by federal and state agencies for private investment on private land resulting in environmental benefits, also called "ecosystem services," for the public.