In 1787, with the founding of the United States, the Federal Government understood the importance of public education in support of a democracy. From 1803 when Ohio become a state within the newly formed United States, the US Government granted lands reserved in support of public institutions, primarily public schools. As too many states became too flexible in the sales of these lands, when New Mexico and Arizona were admitted to the Union in 1912, their mandate was explicit and inflexible.
Concentrated in nine western states, 42 million acres of state trust lands are an important public resource. Trust land managers uphold the fiduciary purpose of these lands for the designated beneficiaries—primarily K-12 public schools—and ensure the long-term sustainability of the trust.
The 2015 report on State Trust Lands in the West describes the history and current uses for State Trust Lands’ income.