MN School Trust Lands: Contemplating the Golden Goose

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Video By Kristen Larsen

In the Aesop fable there was a goose that laid golden eggs. The farmer who owned the goose wanted all the gold that was inside the goose, so he killed it and found there was no gold in the goose. The moral: trying to make great short term gains can deprive you of long term wealth.

Minnesota faces a similar problem. The golden goose in this case is land the federal government gave Minnesota when it became a state. Those lands were to be used for the benefit of schools. While most of the land was sold in the 1880s, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources still manages about 2.5 Million acres of school trust land. Land leasing, mining and timber sales generate income for Minnesota schools. The state’s Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee (PSFAC) oversees the DNR’s management of the lands so they generate revenue.

With the state budget crunch, there is pressure in the legislature to increase revenues from School Trust Lands. To some in the legislature there is concern that the DNR management protects the environment rather than extracting the maximum short term gains from the lands. The PSFAC met on April 9th and discussed how to maintain institutional knowledge and pass that on to new members when the political leadership of the House and Senate changes. The committee is learning about its role and function and concurrently evaluating changes suggested by some members of the legislature.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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