The Commissioner of Public Lands, an elected official, guides the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR's) management of approximately 5.6 million acres of state lands. The agency’s land policies come from numerous sources such as the federal Enabling Act, the State Constitution, state statute, and various boards, councils and commissions. 
The lands that DNR manages on behalf of Washington state citizens and beneficiaries 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

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. 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, including the state's aquatic reserves.

State Natural Areas

Washingtonians have 92 Natural Areas managed by DNR. This includes 56 Natural Area Preserves and 36 Natural Resources Conservation Areas on more than 152,000 acres statewide. These lands are managed for conservation, research, and education for the benefit of all people of Washington state.