Management of Oregon’s 1.5 million acre portfolio of Common School Trust Lands has long been a contentious issue. Twenty-five years ago, Oregon Attorney General Charles S. Crookham issued an opinion clarifying that Common School Trust Lands must be managed primarily for revenue maximization.
But environmental groups have repeatedly lobbied and litigated to eliminate revenue generation from the Trust Lands, claiming that commodity production is an outdated concept. They finally succeeded during 2013-15, when Oregon’s Trust Land portfolio lost $360,000/year in net operating income. Those losses had to be paid for by Oregon public school students.
In his report, A Proposal to Generate Adequate Returns from Common School Trust Lands, Dr. Fruits concluded that revenue generated for schools by the Oregon Common School Trust Lands likely would go up by 600% if the lands were sold and the net income were invested in the existing Common School Fund.