Frequently Asked Questions
About the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments
What are state trust lands and how are they different from federal “public” lands?
When Wyoming became a state on July 10, 1890, the federal government granted approximately 4.2 million acres of land to the State of Wyoming. The Wyoming Constitution and state laws direct the Board of Land Commissioners (Board) to manage state trust lands for two key purposes consistent with traditional trust principles: 1) long-term growth in value, and 2) optimum, sustainable revenue production.
The Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) is required by law to manage state trust lands to produce income to support public schools and other public institutions. Trust lands are leased for a wide variety of surface and sub-surface purposes, and return revenues to the designated state beneficiaries in the form of rentals, royalties, and fees.
Alternatively, federal “public” lands - those managed by federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service - are required by law to be managed under a multiple-use mandate, which generally requires the consideration of all uses and users in management decisions.
How does the State acquire, dispose of, or exchange its state trust lands?
When beneficial to the purposes of the state land trust, the Board may purchase, sell, or exchange (value for value) lands. Any person may submit a land transaction proposal to OSLI.
In 2005, the Board adopted its Trust Land Management Objectives, rooted in state law, to evaluate proposed land transactions. A proposal need not meet all objectives, but all objectives will be considered in the detailed analysis prepared by OSLI for the proposed transaction.
- Better meet beneficiaries’ objectives through enhanced revenue and/or investment factors
- Improve manageability by consolidating ownership and/or leveraging management resources
- Meet specific school and/or community need to improve stability, provide growth, improve access/recreational opportunity
Since 2005, Board-approved land transactions have resulted in a net gain of over 30,000 acres of publicly-accessible state trust lands.
What access does the public have to state trust lands?
In 1988, the Board adopted its Chapter 13 rules to officially allow the public the privilege of hunting, fishing, and general recreational use on state trust lands.
- Land must be legally accessible. Visit lands.wyo.gov to view the state lands access map viewer.
- Off-road vehicle use, overnight camping, and open fires are prohibited on state trust lands.
- Activities that would damage state lands, roads, improvements or lessees’ property are prohibited.
- Cultivated croplands are not open to public use.
It is a misdemeanor to damage state trust land, use motorized vehicles off-road, charge fees, build fires, camp, or violate lawful orders of the Board (W.S. 36-2-107).
Any activities outside of the scope of Chapter 13 must be authorized under a temporary use permit or special use lease. For more information please visit lands.wyo.gov.