Wisconsin Board of Commissioners
Who we are and what we do
The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), Wisconsin’s oldest state agency, is comprised of Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, State Treasurer Kurt Schuller, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. We proudly carry on the pioneering commitment of our state’s early leaders to a constitutionally protected form of public education financing that originated with millions of acres of land granted by the federal government.
Nearly all of the School Trust Lands were sold over 100 years ago. The proceeds were used to establish the School Trust Funds, which continue to grow with revenue from unclaimed property, clear proceeds of civil and criminal fees, fines and forfeitures, and timber production on School Trust Lands.
We manage these Funds and the remaining School Trust Lands for the benefit of public school libraries, the University of Wisconsin, and the state’s citizens. See our Common School Fund Brochure and our Normal School Fund Brochure for details.
We also maintain a rich archive of historical records related to the agency’s past and present land holdings.
We do all of this with only eight full-time employees and not one penny of general-purpose tax revenue.
How you benefit
This small state agency is an integral part of Wisconsin’s history and economy. Our financial investments, land management practices, and archive benefit every citizen of the state.
- We generate investment income for distribution as public school library aid— a total of $32.5 million during fiscal year 2012.
- We loan money to municipalities and school districts for public purpose projects— nearly $52 million approved during that same time period.
- We contribute to Wisconsin’s sustainable timber economy, combat forest fragmentation, protect unique natural areas, and secure public access to large blocks of northern forests.
- We manage an extensive archive consulted by land owners, surveyors, researchers, and others interested in this rich source of historical information about the state’s land and early settlers.
We are grateful for this opportunity to serve as stewards of the lands, moneys, and records we hold in trust for all of Wisconsin’s citizens.