State trust lands serve public

  • 2009 figures.

    Sources: The Sonoran Institute, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, state land agencies.

What's equivalent in area to Washington state, lies mostly west of the Mississippi, and raises well over a billion dollars for public education each year? State trust lands. These unique "public" lands were granted by the federal government to every state that joined the Union, starting with Ohio in 1803, in the belief that townships needed a land base with which to support public education. Most Eastern states have long since sold off their trust lands, but a few Western states -- particularly those with high-value timber, coal or natural gas resources or coveted urban properties -- have turned them into long-term school-funding engines, using lease fees and royalties from mining, energy development, logging and agriculture. Some have sold or leased their urban holdings for development.

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