Just prior to statehood, a cash-poor, land-rich federal government provided Washington with more than 3 million acres of land to build schools and other vital public institutions. Free public education was seen then, as it is now, as essential to American freedom, prosperity and happiness. Two square miles of every 36-square "township" were given to the young state of Washington to generate revenue for education.
In 1957, the legislature created the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to manage state trust lands for the people of Washington. Under the elected leadership of the Commissioner of Public Lands
, DNR manages seven specific trusts
to generate revenue
and preserve forests, water, and habitat. DNR now manages 5.6 million acres of forest, range, agricultural, aquatic, and commercial lands for more than $200 million in annual financial benefit for public schools, state institutions, and county services.
Our mission: Manage, sustain, and protect the health and productivity of Washington’s lands and waters to meet the needs of present and future generations.