About Utah Trust Lands
What are Trust Lands?
The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (Trust Lands Administration) was created to manage 12 real estate trusts granted to the state of Utah by the United States at statehood. At that time, 1/9 of the total land in the state was designated school trust land, with added acreage for 11 other beneficiaries. Trust land totaled 7,475,297 acres at statehood. Since then, about half of what was originally granted to the state has been sold to private owners. More than 30 percent of what is now private land in Utah was originally trust land. The cash from the sale of those trust lands was deposited into the permanent funds of the beneficiaries.
In 1976, the federal government put an end to homesteading in the public domain. Federal lands are no longer available to private citizens as in years past. In Utah, almost 70 percent of the land area remains in federal control, with only about 21 percent privately owned. The Trust Lands Administration, with roughly seven percent of the land in the state, is essentially the only source of new private land in Utah.
The Trust Lands Administration manages a 3.5 million-acre real estate portfolio for the financial benefit of the 12 beneficiaries.
Trust lands include both surface lands and mineral lands. The 3.5 million acres discussed so far refer to surface lands in the trust. Most of these lands also have subsurface, or mineral lands, with them. In addition, there are about a million more acres of mineral-only lands in the trust -- for a total of 4.5 million acres of mineral lands. Even though there are 12 trust beneficiaries, the Common Schools Trust owns 95 percent of all Utah trust land.
Some areas of the state have large amounts of trust land, while others do not. For example, there are only 32 acres of trust land in Salt Lake County, while Millard County contains almost 403,000 acres. Rural areas have a larger number of trust land acres.