Public Lands | Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains the most frequently asked questions and the appropriate responses relative to 16th Section Lands.


Our Most Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Who owns Sixteenth Section Land?
  2. Who do I contact about leasing Sixteenth Section Land?
  3. What responsibility does the Secretary of State have in the management and leasing of Sixteenth Section Land?
  4. How are rents set for leases of Sixteenth Section Land?
  5. What role does the County Board of Supervisors play in the leasing of Sixteenth Section Land?
  6. Is Sixteenth Section Land subject to property taxes?
  7. If I am leasing Sixteenth Section Land, may I cut timber growing on the land?
  8. What is the income from Sixteenth Section Land used for?
  9. Can Sixteenth Section Land be sold or swapped for other land?
  10. May I hunt on Sixteenth Section Land?
  11. Does anyone have the right to use Sixteenth Section Land without paying a fair rent?
  12. Why don't school districts in counties in North Mississippi have Sixteenth Section Land?
  13. Where do I report abuses of Sixteenth Section Lands?



Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who owns Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
Title to Sixteenth Section Land is vested in the State of Mississippi, in trust for the support of public education. Sixteenth Section Lands are not ordinary public lands. They are trust land, and legal principles regarding the management of trust apply. Law imposes on those responsible for the management of trusts, the highest standards of care and attention.

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2. Who do I contact about leasing Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
Although title to Sixteenth Section Lands is vested in the State of Mississippi in trust, laws enacted by the State Legislature, place jurisdiction and control over leasing and day to day management of the lands in the hands of the local school board. To lease Sixteenth Section land, you should contact the land manager of the local school district where the land is located. For a list of local land managers, click here.

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3. What responsibility does the Secretary of State have in the management and leasing of Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:

The Secretary of State exercises general supervision of the local school districts' management of Sixteenth Section Land. Local School Districts are required to file copies of all leases which they grant on Sixteenth Section Land as well as reports concerning their management of the lands and income received from leasing and investment of funds. The Secretary of State monitors the local school districts to insure compliance with laws regulating the management of Sixteenth Section Land. The Secretary of State also provides legal assistance and training to the districts.

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4. How are rents set for leases of Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
Rents for leases of Agricultural Land, hunting and fishing rights on Forest Land and mineral exploration and mining rights on all land classifications are set by competitive bids solicited through public notices published in the legal advertising section of newspapers. Fair market rental value on all other land classifications is determined by appraisal of the land.

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5. What role does the County Board of Supervisors play in the leasing of Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
Current law requires that the County Boards of Supervisors approve the amount of rent in all leases in which the rent is determined by appraisal. The Boards of Supervisors are not required to approve rental amounts in those leases in which rent is determined by competitive bids.

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6. Is Sixteenth Section Land subject to property taxes?

Answer:
Yes, once Sixteenth Section is leased, it is subject to property taxes in the same way that privately owned land is taxed. The lessee is responsible for paying the property tax. The lease may be canceled for failure to pay the taxes. When the land is not leased, the local school district is not required to pay the usual property taxes on the land, although it may be responsible for certain drainage district taxes.

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7. If I am leasing Sixteenth Section Land, may I cut timber growing on the land?

Answer:
Upon leasing, the law requires that all timber be reserved to the local school district. No timber may be cut and used by the lessee except for fuel and necessary repairs and improvements on the lease premises. However, before cutting any timber for firewood, repairs or improvements the lessee should obtain written permission from the Mississippi Forestry Commission. The following uses of Sixteenth Section timber by the lessee are not authorized: selling of firewood; allowing others who do not have a lease to cut firewood; cutting and selling timber to buy fencing, posts and construction materials; cutting and selling timber to be cut in dimensioned lumber for construction or addition to leaseholder's home, barns, or outbuildings that are lessee-owned improvements, or any other indirect use; or selling or trading timber.

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8. What is the income from Sixteenth Section Land used for?

Answer:
Income from Sixteenth Section Land is considered as a local funding source, and the expendable income may be spent for any educational purposes authorized by law.

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9. Can Sixteenth Section Land be sold or swapped for other land?

Answer:
Sixteenth Section Land cannot be sold or swapped for other lands. The only exception is that land may be sold for industrial development. Where land is sold for industrial development, the school district must purchase replacement land of like acreage and value.

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10. May I hunt on Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
Sixteenth Section Lands classified as Forest Land are not open to hunting by the general public. Only the holder of a valid lease of the hunting and fishing rights may hunt on Sixteenth Section Forest Land. If there is no lease of the hunting and fishing rights on Forest Land, the school district must post the land and prevent hunting and fishing on the land.

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11. Does anyone have the right to use Sixteenth Section Land without paying a fair rent?

Answer:
The local school district having jurisdiction and control of the land may use Sixteenth Section Land as a site for school buildings without paying fair market rental. However all other persons and entities, including federal, state, and local governments must pay fair market rental for the use of Sixteenth Section Land.

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12. Why don't school districts in counties in North Mississippi have Sixteenth Section Land?

Answer:
The treaty with the Chickasaw Indian Nation ceding their land to the United States failed to specifically reserve Sixteenth Sections and when the lands were later sold by the government, no provision was made for the reservation of school trust lands. Later the United States granted the State of Mississippi lieu land as compensation for this error. However, this lieu land was sold by the state, and the money invested in railroad bonds. The investment was lost during the Civil War. The State Legislature currently makes annual appropriations to school districts in the Chickasaw Cession area to compensate for this lost source of local education funding.

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13. Where do I report abuses of Sixteenth Section Lands?

Answer:
You should report abuses of Sixteenth Section Land to the land manger or superintendent of education of the local school district and to the Public Lands Division of the Mississippi Secretary of State's office.

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