School Trust Lands - Management and Revenue Generation

Taconite mineral revenue on School Trust Land In Northern Minnesota

The DNR has the authority and responsibility to achieve the goals outlined in Minnesota Statute, Section 84.027, Subd. 18 including:

  • manage efficiently and with undivided loyalty;
  • reduce operating expenses and maximize revenues deposited in the Permanent School Fund;
  • manage real estate transactions to ensure fair market returns and to retain values from long-term appreciation;
  • maximize long-term economic returns while maintaining sound natural resource conservation and management principles;
  • balance short-term revenues and long-term interests so that long-term benefits are not lost in an effort to maximize short-term gains;
  • maintain the integrity of the trust and prevent the misapplication of its lands and its revenues.

The Permanent School Fund receives income from economic activities on School Trust Lands which are managed by the DNR. Most of the revenue on School Trust Lands is generated from mineral leasing and royalty payments, forest management activities, and real estate transactions.

Minerals Management

photo: Hand full of taconite pelletsRents and royalties from iron ore/taconite leases are the largest contributor of revenue to the Permanent School Fund. On average, the percentage of revenues that comes from iron leases is approximately 95 percent of the total mineral lease revenue. In addition to iron leases, revenue is also generated from non-ferrous metallic mineral exploration, peat, industrial minerals, and other mineral leases.

The Division of Lands & Minerals is responsible for managing mineral resources and includes:

  • Collection and accounting of revenues
  • Negotiating and drafting of leases
  • Conducting mineral lease sales
  • Monitoring and verification of minerals removed from school trust lands
  • Mineral potential evaluations for proposed land transactions
  • Related record keeping activities

Forest Management

photo: cut timber with stampApproximately 1.5 million acres of School Trust Lands are considered commercial forest lands while the remaining 1 million acres are non-commercial or non-forest lands (i.e. unproductive bog forest, lowland brush, grass, marsh, and water).


As the DNR's surface administrator of most School Trust Lands, the Division of Forestry is responsible for:

  • Collection and accounting of revenues
  • Schedule timber harvest activities
  • Verification of forest products removed from school trust lands
  • Reforestation
  • Protection
  • Other activities

Real Estate Management

photo: utility crossing on school trust landsThe DNR Divisions work together in drafting, negotiating, and administering leases, utility licenses, and easements on School Trust Lands. Revenue is generated from real estate leases (includes construction aggregate lease royalties), utility license and easement fees, campground fees, and land sales.