Trust Lands Explained

How Trust Lands Started

The idea of trust lands began with Thomas Jefferson who believed that a strong democracy is founded upon education for all. Jefferson proposed that for each new state entering the Union, land should be set aside to support public schools and other important institutions. Unlike public lands, trust lands are held in trust for beneficiaries designated by Congress at statehood.

Utah’s Statehood

At Statehood in 1896, Congress granted Trust Lands to the new state of Utah with the provision that revenue earned from the sale or lease of the land be placed into permanent endowments for 12 specific institutions: public education, Utah School for the Deaf, Utah School for the Blind, Utah State Hospital, Juvenile Justice Services, Miners Hospital, University of Utah, Utah State University, Colleges of Education, College of Mines and Earth Sciences/UofU, reservoirs, and buildings.

Four Sections in Each Township

Trust Land parcels were largely allocated by apportioning the state into townships, each six by six miles, and dividing each township into 36 square-mile sections. Utah was given sections 2, 16, 32, and 36 in each township for public schools, resulting in a checkerboard of land ownership. All other designated state institutions were granted fixed amounts of acreage.

Trust Lands Administration

Today trust lands are administered by Trust Lands. Created in 1994 by the Utah Legislature, Trust Lands manages Utah’s 3.4 million acres of trust land, generating revenue through energy development, real estate planning, and surface resource use. All proceeds are deposited into permanent endowments for each beneficiary. Since 1994, Trust Lands has generated $1.96 billion in revenue to help grow all permanent funds to $2.5 billion. A separate agency—the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office—invests Permanent Fund endowments and manages annual fund distributions for Trust Lands. Learn How Trust Land Funds Get to Your School

Learn How We Have Made an Impact With Trust Lands

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