Trust Land Performance Initiative

A Framework to Modernize the State Trust Lands Portfolio

Why Modernize the State Trust Lands Portfolio?

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources needs to grow the amount and the reliability of the net revenue it distributes to beneficiaries from the assets it manages in perpetuity, subject to the legal, ecological, and social/cultural environment in Washington state. These assets produce nontax revenue that funds critical public institutions in Washington, such as K-12 schools, state universities, and social and other local public services. The Trust Land Performance Assessment has shown that over the past 25 years, total net revenue from state trust lands has declined in real dollars. This has resulted in difficulties in delivering steady and reliable revenue to trust beneficiaries. There are often few available alternative sources of revenue for these important institutions. These lands also provide additional irreplaceable economic, social, and environmental values for the people of Washington state.

Initiative Vision

The beneficiaries of state trust lands receive reliable and increased income from their asset portfolio into perpetuity, as well as sustained and/or enhanced natural resource lands and their associated ecosystem services.


Building upon the findings of DNR's 2021 Legislature-directed report titled, "Trust Land Performance Assessment Project: Charting a Course for the Future," the Department will transform state trust land management and work to optimize the state trust lands portfolio to meet the needs of today's and future generations.


The initiative will be built around three main strategies:
  1. Legislative changes designed to increase the amount and the reliability of the revenue generated by the state trust lands portfolio
  2. Changes to Board of Natural Resources policies that improve trust asset management performance
  3. Updates to DNR operational business practices that increase the Department's efficiency and effectiveness in managing state trust assets. 

Guiding Principles

  1. Trust Responsibilities: Generate revenue and other benefits for each trust by meeting DNR's trust management responsibilities. Those responsibilities include making state trust lands productive, preserving the corpus of the trust, exercising reasonable care and skill in managing the trust, acting prudently with respect to trust assets, acting with undivided loyalty to trust beneficiaries, and acting impartially with respect to current and future trust beneficiaries.
  2. Working Lands: Sustain and/or enhance the working natural resource lands and their intrinsic ecosystem services through proactive management that adapts to a changing climate as well as evolving social needs, consistent with the Department's responsibilities.
  3. Multiple-Use Values: Sustain and/or enhance the social, environmental, and cultural benefits of state trust lands consistent with trust management obligations and purposes of the land.
  4. Feasible Solutions: Promote ongoing, active stewardship over the entire land base by providing flexibility to adopt practical, implementable management actions, and to respond to new information and site-specific conditions. 
This language was presented to the Board of Natural Resources during its July 6, 2021, meeting.