What are trust lands?
Unlike public lands, trust lands are parcels of land held in trust to support 12 state institutions, primarily public schools, but also state hospitals, teaching colleges, and universities. While 67 percent of Utah is held in public domain, only about six percent of the state’s acreage is set aside as trust lands.
At the time of statehood, Congress granted parcels of land to Utah and created permanent endowments to support these institutions.
Trust land parcels were 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. View the state land management/ownership map.
- On behalf of beneficiaries, SITLA manages Utah’s 3.4 million acres of trust land generating revenue through oil, gas, and mineral leases, rent, and royalties; real estate development and sales; and surface estate sales, leases, and easements.
- All proceeds are deposited into permanent endowments for each beneficiary. A separate agency, the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, invests the endowments, and annual interest and dividends are distributed to each beneficiary.
- Since 1994, SITLA has generated $1.5 billion in revenue to help grow the Permanent School Fund from $50 million to just over $2 billion.