An overview of state lands managed by DNR
DNR manages approximately 5.6 million acres of state lands that fall into three main categories:
State Trust Lands
DNR manages 3 million acres of state trust lands that provide a continuous flow of revenue for specific beneficiaries in Washington State through revenue-producing activities such as:
The U.S. Congress granted state trust lands to Washington at statehood in 1889. Revenue from these trust lands helps fund construction of public K-12 grade schools statewide, universities, other state educational institutions, and prisons.
In addition to earning income, trust lands protect habitat for native plant and animal species, provide clean and abundant water, and offer diverse public recreation, and education opportunities.
DNR also manages hundreds of thousands of acres of state forest lands that help fund services in many counties and contribute to the state General Fund—earmarked for education.
State-owned aquatic lands
DNR’s Aquatic Resources Division manages 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands as a public trust for the people of Washington. Aquatic lands are navigable lakes, rivers, streams, and marine waters such as Puget Sound and many beaches and tidelands. DNR is directed by statute to manage state-owned aquatic lands to:
- Encourage public use and access.
- Foster water-dependent uses.
- Ensure environmental protection.
- Promote production of renewable resources, such as shellfish.
- Generate income from use of aquatic lands, consistent with the previous goals.
State-owned aquatic lands generate revenue from the sale of renewable resources such as wild geoducks and other shellfish, and from leases, easements, and rights of entry.
Revenue from aquatic land leases is reinvested to restore aquatic ecosystems, protect the health and productivity of aquatic resources, and fund local projects that create public access to aquatic lands – ensuring sustainability of our aquatic lands for generations to come.
state natural areasGuiding state land management
DNR’s Natural Areas Program manages 55 Natural Area Preserves(NAPs) and 35 Natural Resources Conservation Areas(NRCAs) on more than 150,000 acres statewide. These lands are for conservation, research, and education for the benefit of all people of Washington State.
The Commissioner of Public Lands, an elected official, guides DNR. The agency’s policies come from numerous sources such as the federal Enabling Act, the State Constitution, and state statute. The Board of Natural Resources adopts broad-based policies and approves major commodity sales and all land transactions for state lands.