Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1996 NO. 11 > Aug 1 1996

1. The Enabling Act facilitating the admission of Washington into the union (25 Stat. 676) is a limitation on state legislative authority and requires that federal grant lands be held in trust; exercises of legislative authority over federal grant lands will be tested by fiduciary principles. 2.  Common law trust principles are instructive with respect to the administration of federal trust lands by the State, but the Legislature's management decisions are accorded a deference not granted a private trustee because of the presumption of constitutionality that applies to exercises of state legislative authority. 3.  Federal and state laws of general application (such as the Endangered Species Act) apply to federal grant lands administered by the State. 4.  The State's duties as trustee of federal grant lands run separately to each trust; joint administration is permissible where it serves the interests of each trust, so long as each trust is separately accounted for. 5.  The State must separately account for each federal land grant trust, and maintain separate funds or accounts to that end. 6.  The Legislature may lawfully delegate to the Department of Natural Resources and the Commissioner of Public Lands a role in administering forest lands within the State, including federal grant lands, while simultaneously authorizing the same agency and officer to play a role in regulating such lands. 7.  In its administration of federal trust lands, the Department of Natural Resources is not subject to chapters 11.98, 11.100, 11.106 or 11.110 RCW. 8.  The Department of Natural Resources has the authority to satisfy the requirements of the Endangered Species Act by entering into a long-term management plan, so long as the plan does not violate the Department's common law or statutory duties regarding the federal grant land trusts. 9.  The exercise of discretion by the Department of Natural Resources with respect to administration of federal grant lands will be tested against an abuse of discretion standard; as against a trust beneficiary, principles regarding a trustee's exercise of discretion would apply, while as against a non-beneficiary, principles of administrative law would apply. 

AGO 1989 NO. 14 > Jul 20 1989

1.The State Treasurer may invest funds contained in the natural resources deposit fund established pursuant to RCW 43.85.130(1)(c), except for funds derived from the sale or disposition of public lands.2.The State Investment Board may invest funds contained in the natural resources deposit fund and derived from the sale or disposition of public lands, and held in a temporary depository, pursuant to RCW 43.33A.010.3.The State Treasurer may, pursuant to RCW 43.84.080, invest funds in the resource management cost account (RCW 79.64.020).4.The State Treasurer may, pursuant to RCW 43.84.090, deduct twenty percent of all income received from the investment of the surplus contained in the natural resources deposit fund and the resource management cost account, except for income from the investment of trust moneys; this income must be apportioned to the appropriate funds pursuant to RCW 79.64.055.5.RCW 43.84.090 does not authorize the State Treasurer to deduct any portion of income received from the investment of trust funds which obtain their revenue from the management of trust lands; the Legislature could authorize such a deduction to the extent consistent with general trust principles. 

AGO 1972 NO. 20 > Sep 12 1972

The records of funds deposited by the commissioner of public lands in approved state depositories, pursuant to RCW 43.85.130 and 43.85.140, are available for public inspection in accordance with RCW 43.88.200.

AGLO 1977 NO. 25 > Jun 22 1977

Where, in disposing of land no longer needed for park purposes under RCW 43.51.210, the state parks and recreation commission reserves mineral rights in that land, the mineral rights thus reserved become subject to administration by the state department of natural resources under the provisions of RCW 79.01.612 unless those mineral rights have themselves been reserved for some specific and legitimate park purpose.

AGO 1966 NO. 111 > Oct 10 1966

Where the commissioner of public lands, pursuant to RCW 79.01.340, has granted a right of way across public lands to the state highway department, or to a board of county commissioners, for the establishment and construction of a road or street, and has received legally required compensation therefor, the right of way grantee may, in turn, grant a franchise to a public utility for power lines, telephone and telegraph lines, gas lines, water mains, or sewer lines without the payment of additional compensation to the commissioner.