The controversy over several dozen wooded acres in East Bethel involves School Trust Lands, entities that predate Minnesota statehood. The federal government granted Minnesota two sections in every township, with the state to use the land for the benefit of public schools.

Revenues generated from the School Trust Lands — from sale of the land or leasing mineral rights, for example — are put in a trust fund called the Permanent School Fund. Interest and dividends from that fund are distributed to all school districts in the state.

More about trust lands on page B5.