Leasing State Trust Lands for Agriculture and Grazing
Revenue from the 1.1 million acres of state trust lands that DNR leases for agriculture and grazing helps fund public school construction across Washington state. We work with lessees to assure that the lands are productive and sustainably managed, while public resources such as water, fish, and wildlife are protected.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) serves as a trust manager with a fiduciary responsibility. Our obligation is to keep lands productive and generate revenue for the trusts. State law requires that we obtain fair-market rent for lease of state trust lands. Our lessees’ right to their leased property does not extend beyond the term of the existing lease agreement. When a lease expires, the state, at its option may choose to take a lease to public auction or renegotiate a new lease with the existing lease.
When DNR decides to negotiate re-lease of a parcel with the existing lessee, other qualified interested parties have an opportunity to inform DNR that they are interested in the lease by submitting an application, and placing a bonus bid on the lease. The existing lessee has the ability to match the bid, and if they do, negotiations continue, with the bonus bid amount serving as an additional one-time payment along with the negotiated rent. If the existing lessee does not match the bid, the lease is more widely marketed at public auction, with the bonus bid amount set as a minimum bid.
Other ways to acquire a lease:
Request a new lease on an unleased parcel: Few parcels become unleased. Contact region office staff for more information if you locate a parcel of DNR-managed trust land that is currently unleased. Submit a lease application for unleased land to DNR for consideration. DNR evaluates the lease site and environmental conditions. If the proposed land use is approved, a draft lease is developed and offered at public auction.
Lease Assignment. An assignment transfers lease rights from the current lessee to another entity. The current lessee notifies DNR's region office that they wish to assign their lease to another. DNR evaluates the new lessee's qualifications and proposal, and may set conditions on the assignment. If all parties agree to the terms, a fee is paid, and documents are signed by all parties. Assignment requests must come from the current lessee.