School Trust Lands

School Trust Land In Northern Minnesota

Phase One of the first-ever Asset Management Plan for Minnesota’s school trust lands is complete. The Minnesota Office of School Trust Lands (OSTL) has been working in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources to develop this Plan which will serve as a 25-year framework for school trust lands management, as required by state law. Read or download Phase One of the Plan on the OSTL website.

The Plan represents a new, forward-looking management approach for managing the state’s school trust lands, which make up 45% of all DNR-administered lands. The Plan intentionally focuses on bolstering existing revenue-generating activities like mineral exploration, timber harvesting, and real estate transactions while identifying potential opportunities to generate new revenue to ensure the Permanent School Fund financial assets will continue to grow and support public education in Minnesota.

When it’s completed, the Plan will become a decision-making tool to guide management of the state’s school trust lands by bringing together all the different revenue-generating activities in a single integrated plan. The Plan will also increase transparency of school trust lands management and performance while increasing opportunities for greater collaboration between legislators, Tribal nations in Minnesota, Minnesota public schools, and stakeholders.

In Minnesota’s broad landscape of public lands, School Trust Lands are set aside for a specific purpose – to provide a continual source of funding for public education. While School Trust Lands may look the same as other types of public lands, these lands are managed in a way that generates revenue for the Permanent School Fund (PSF). The interest and dividends from the PSF supports K-12 public education and provide funds that are distributed to every public school district within the state.

Sources of revenue generated on School Trust Lands reflect the diversity of Minnesota’s natural resources. The largest financial contributions to the trust comes from iron mining and timber harvesting activities on School Trust Lands. Other revenue generating activities include aggregate mining, peat mining, leasing for mineral exploration, the sale of lands, and licensing utility crossings.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) serves as the Trustee for the 2.5 million acres of School Trust Lands and an additional 1 million acres of severed mineral rights on behalf of Minnesota’s public schools. The DNR works to manage the diverse portfolio of School Trust Lands by promoting revenue generation activities that are also protective of the natural resources that Minnesotan’s enjoy and value. As Trustee, the DNR is uniquely positioned to provide experience and knowledge that optimizes School Trust Land asset management. DNR staff come from a wide range of technical expertise that includes mining engineering, economics, forestry, geology, ecology, biology, and real-estate. DNR staff work to provide robust land management strategies adaptable to economic and environmental conditions.

Historic map snapshot of northern minnesota School Trust Lands


In 1858 the federal government granted land to Minnesota "for the use of schools". These lands, and some lands granted later, are known as School Trust Lands.
History »

Map snapshot of northern minnesota School Trust Lands


View maps showing the 2.5 million acres of School Trust Lands and the additional 1 million acres of severed mineral rights.
Maps »

DNR Forester working on School Trust Lands

Management and Revenue Generation

As Trustee, the DNR has a fiduciary duty to manage School Trust Lands to maximize their long-term economic return.
Management and Revenue »

Map snapshot of northern Minnesota School Trust Lands


The Trustee relationship extends to other State officials who make decisions that affect the School Trust Lands and Permanent School Fund. This includes The Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission and the School Trust Lands Director.
Trustee »

report on School Trust Lands


The DNR reports on management and revenue generated from School Trust Lands as requested by the Legislature.
Reports »

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