Trust Land History

When Montana was accepted into the Union through the Enabling Act in 1889, the Congress of the United States granted to the state of Montana, for Common Schools (K-12) support, sections 16 and 36 in every township within the state. Some of these sections had been homesteaded, some were within the boundaries of Indian 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. The Enabling Act and subsequent acts also granted acreage for other educational and state institutions. Each section of state trust land is assigned to a specific trust.  

Trust Lands Are Working Lands

Today, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Trust Lands Management Division oversees the management of 5.2 million surface acres and 6.2 million subsurface acres. Mineral acreage exceeds surface acreage because the mineral estate has been retained when lands were sold. While trust lands are generally open for recreation, trust lands remain working lands that are leased to create revenue. The State of Montana trust land resources are managed to produce revenues for trust beneficiaries while considering environmental factors and protecting the future income generating capacity of the land. The trust beneficiaries are as follows:

Common Schools (K-12) Veterans Home
The University of Montana School for the Deaf & Blind
Montana State University - Morrill Grant State Reform School (Pine Hills)
Montana State University - Second Grant Montana Development Center 
Montana Tech of the University of Montana Montana State Hospital
State Normal School Public Land Trust Navigable Rivers
Public Buildings Acquired Lands Trust