State Land Office

Agency Lands

The State Land Office functions as the real estate agency for a number of state agencies. Our current land portfolio consists of almost 300,000 acres. Under statutory authority, we hold title to state lands and interests in state lands, such as easements and water rights. This agency acquires land needed for state use, whether it’s land for a new DMV, a veteran’s facility or a state park.

We work with our federal and local agency partners as well as willing private sellers to acquire land to help us achieve our mission to conserve, protect, manage and enhance the state’s natural resources. We also dispose of land when directed by a legislative action or when a property no longer meets the need of a managing agency.

One of the main roles of the State Land Office involves authorizing uses of state land. We are experts in issuing permits, easements and licenses to use state land and routinely review applications for commercial, agricultural and recreational uses. We are always happy to review an application prior to submission to answer any questions you may have about our process.

We have an extensive collection of records associated with state land, and can assist with researching land patent information upon request. If you need a copy of a document or a map, we can provide that for a nominal fee. 

Sovereign Lands

Upon statehood in 1864, title to the bed and banks of navigable water bodies passed from the federal government to the new state. It’s important to note that there are currently a limited number of sovereign lands that the state claims; not all of Nevada’s lakes and rivers are considered state owned. Here’s a list of state owned sovereign lands:

Lake Tahoe, Truckee River, Carson River, Colorado River, Walker Lake, Washoe Lake, Winnemucca Lake, and the Virgin River

The state owns the bed and banks of these bodies of water, generally to the ordinary and permanent high water mark. Our ownership typically doesn’t extend to wetlands, tributaries or flood overflow areas. Any use or disturbance of sovereign land needs to be authorized by this agency. Structures like piers, buoys, irrigation diversions, and bridges need authorizations and are subject to an annual use fee. If a dredging project or aquatic invasive species removal is planned, we can issue a short term authorization for these uses. In order to obtain authorization, please review our authorizations and permitting page and submit the appropriate application to our office.

School Trust Land

Pursuant to the Enabling Act of 1802 from the federal government, Nevada was originally granted sections 16 and 36 in each township (totaling approximately 3.9 million acres), to be taken when the land was surveyed. However, surveys were slow to be completed, and the state suggested a different approach and received  approval for a land exchange from Congress.

In 1880, the state exchanged its remaining grant lands for 2 million acres of land to be selected by the state in any location where federal lands were available. The state then went on to sell these “state selection” lands, depositing revenues into the Permanent School Fund. By the early 1900’s, only a few parcels of land remained.

In 1926, the state once again requested and received approval from Congress to exchange the remaining lands for a like number of replacement acres. After returning to the federal government 30,000 acres of low potential land, the state was basically given a “credit” of 30,000 acres of federal land that could be acquired for the benefit of the trust. Most of these “exchange” lands were selected, sold, and the proceeds were deposited in the fund. 

Currently the state holds about 3,000 acres of school trust lands concentrated in Washoe County, Carson City, Nye County and Clark County. These lands are considered assets to the trust and must be managed to generate revenue for the School Fund. 

Persuant to NRS 387, the State Treasurer is the legal custodian of all securities in which the moneys of the State Permanent School Fund are invested.