The Department of Natural Resources manages more than 3 million acres of state trust forest, agricultural, range, and commercial properties. These trust lands earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions and help fund local services in many counties. They also provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, recreation, and educational opportunities for the public.
Trust Land Transfer Program
DNR strives to improve returns from state trust lands; however, not all trust lands are well-suited for income production. Some lands have important social or ecological values that are desirable of protection for public use and benefit.
The legislatively funded Trust Land Transfer Program provides an opportunity to retain identified special trust lands in public ownership while maintaining and improving economic return to trust beneficiaries. The program is designed to accomplish these important objectives for Common School Trust lands. Designated properties are appraised for current market value. DNR uses the land value of the property to acquire replacement property better suited to generating future revenue for common schools. The value of timber on the lands is deposited into the Common School Construction Account to provide immediate revenue for K-12 public schools.
These timbered properties are transferred to another public agency that will manage and protect it for public use and enjoyment. The legislation stipulates that the aggregate timber value of all transfers be at least 80 percent of the total appropriation. This high timber-to-land ratio of value ensures that most of the appropriation is directed to K-12 education in the current biennium. Properties with lower timber-to-land value ratios are often not suitable for this program.
Exchanging land with other public and private parties helps improve trust land values and income potential. Repositioning state trust lands can improve natural resources management and habitat protection. It also can increase the long-term non-tax revenue that helps build public schools and universities, and provide local services.
Other Land Transactions
Fee transfers to other public agencies, public auctions, and purchases of replacement properties keep trust lands productive for long-term revenue production. Replacement lands are purchased when trust lands with special environmental values are transferred to conservation or other ownership.