SDSU Land use data

Tristan Ahtone filed this request with the South Dakota School & Public Lands of Pierre, SD.


From: Tristan Ahtone

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the South Dakota Open Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

All land use activity for state trust lands related to funding entities "South Dakota State University" and "SDSU Experimental Station", indicated as (A) - College of Agriculture in the land classification system.

This should include active and inactive leases including, but not limited to, coal, oil and gas, minerals, agriculture, grazing, commercial use, real estate, water, renewable energies, and easements.

These files should be in .json or .shp format. If unavailable, data should match with the assigned spatial IDs kindly provided by Treyton Kost-Hillmer in April of 2023.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.


Tristan Ahtone

From: Muckrock Staff

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following South Dakota Open Records Law request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 3, 2023. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: South Dakota School & Public Lands

Mr. Ahtone:

I have spent hours individually and in collaboration with others in my office and my predecessor to make one more good-faith attempt at fulfilling your request. Mr. Kost-Hillmer, who you referenced in your previous email, left this office in June, and I have no record of what he provided you. However, I am hopeful this will adequately satisfy your request.

Attached, you will find a spreadsheet illustrating all current leases and annual lease payments related to South Dakota State University and the SDSU Experiment Station. There are three parcels—two in Brookings County and one in Jackson County that show $0.00/acre. These parcels are used by SDSU for research purposes, so they are not leased out.

We have zero renewable energy leases. Renewable energy easements, however, are filed at county courthouses. In consultation with my predecessor, I have been advised that we have one existing wind easement related to Trust Land associated with SDSU. That easement is in McPherson County. The payments associated with wind energy easements are not public for proprietary reasons.

SDSU Mineral, Oil, and/or Gas leasing is not tracked on an individual tract basis so it cannot be reported individually. The SD Constitution Article VIII Section 18<> pools the mineral money from all lands among all beneficiaries based on the total proportion of land set aside in 1889. That law is implemented in the formula in SDCL 5-7-34<>. As such K-12 education and all endowed institutions like SDSU get mineral income from all state trust properties. SDSU gets 4.66838105% of the mineral money and then half is put into trust and half is paid to the university. This is the way to treat all beneficiaries equally for the land held in trust for their benefit.

As such, the annual reports I’ve previously given you lists the mineral income paid to each beneficiary like SDSU along with surface leasing and investment income for each year. I would point out this is only ½ of the actual money earned as the other 50% of all mineral money goes into the trust fund that generates the invested income so to get the full amount SDSU earned in mineral income by year it would be multiplied by two with 50% to the permanent trust fund and 50% paid to them for operations. The full amount is equal to the 4.55838105% mentioned above. For example, the 2022 annual report lists SDSU mineral income on page 17 as $22,884.66. That means mineral income for SDSU was $45,769.32 with 50% paid out and 50% invested. You can calculate that for SDSU and the experiment station using the publicly available data we have provided you.

We cannot produce records that do not exist. The SD payment structure for mineral earnings does not fit the narrative that you are looking as it relates to production on only SDSU lands. Please use the mineral income from the annual reports on our website. The reports are there from 2009 to 2022.

To my knowledge, we have had zero leases and, thus, no records related to coal, commercial use, real estate, and water on SDSU/Experiment Station Land or otherwise.


Brock Greenfield