What are School Trust Lands?
School Trust Lands are lands owned by the state for the purpose of supporting public schools.
By the Enabling Act of 1889, The Congress of the United States granted to the state of Montana sections 16 and 36 of every township within the state for Common Schools support. Some of these sections had been homesteaded, some were within the boundaries of Native American reservations, and others had been disposed of before passage of the Enabling Act. Other lands were selected by the state in lieu of these lands.
Who is the trustee?
The Montana Constitution established the State Land Board and put oversight of the School Trust Lands in their hands. The State Land Board is made up of the 5 statewide offices, Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The primary responsibility of the Land Board is to make money for the school trust beneficiaries.
The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation handles the day to day management of these lands; and acts as the administrative arm of the Board of Land Commissioners.
How is revenue generated from School Trust Lands?
There are 4 main ways School Trust Lands generate revenue:
- Minerals Management – Oil and gas leases, coal leases etc.
- Forest Management – Timber sales etc.
- Agricultural and Grazing Leases
- Real Estate Management – Commercial leases, Easements and Rights of Way, etc.