FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2011
Land transfers will direct $38 million into public school construction
Natural resources board decisions to affect Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River and Dabob Bay in Jefferson County
OLYMPIA – The state Board of Natural Resources on Tuesday approved transfers of several thousand acres of state trust land in western Washington—the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will continue to manage the lands, but as conservation areas. Many of the sites transferred had environmental or site-specific restrictions that limited their ability to produce income for state trust beneficiaries. DNR manages millions of acres of state trust lands to produce revenue for public school construction, county services and other state trusts.
The largest transaction approved includes 9,000 acres of state trust forestland in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) in eastern King County. The transfer will reimburse the Common School Trust; the land, less than an hour from the Seattle suburbs, will now be managed as an NCRA with the primary focus on habitat for plants and animals, and low-impact public uses, such as hiking.
“DNR has an obligation to produce income for our beneficiaries,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the Board of Natural Resources. “This transfer put funds into the school construction account and allows this scenic river valley, including old-growth forest, to provide vital wildlife habitat and recreation.”
In exchange for transferring the land from trust to conservation status, the Common School Trust will be compensated with funds approved by the 2009 Legislature’s appropriation to the state’s Trust Land Transfer (TLT) Program. Through the TLT program, $24.73 million, reflecting the value of timber on the land, will be used for public school construction statewide. The $4.1 million appraised property value on this NRCA will purchase replacement forestland better suited to long-term revenue for the trust beneficiaries.
Additional state lands around Dabob Bay designated for conservation
The Board today also approved transferring 614 acres of state trust land around Dabob Bay in Jefferson County to conservation status: 604 acres of forested slopes and uplands into NRCA status, and 10 acres of shoreline to the Dabob Bay Natural Area Preserve (NAP).
“We appreciate the efforts made by the Commissioner and the staff to complete this complex land transfer,” said Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin. “As a result we will save this area for future generations, support the shellfish industry, and maintain revenue for the Quilcine fire district.”
“This is the highest quality salt water marsh in Puget Sound. It is nationally recognized as the number one priority by the Coastal Estuary Lands Conservation Program,” said Bill Robinson, Government Relations Director for The Nature Conservancy, which supported the transfer. “The effort to preserve it is supported by the local shellfish industry, the community and tribes.”
The Dabob Bay trust land transfer will send $3 million—reflecting the value of the standing timber—into public school construction projects statewide. The appraised value of the transferred property—$581,000—will purchase replacement lands for the Common School Trust.
The Board today also approved a fee transfer of 640 acres of forested state trust land in the Pressentin Creek area of Skagit County to Seattle City Light Department. An independent appraisal valued timber on the property at $10 million, which will be used for public school construction statewide. The $302,000 value of the land will purchase replacement forestland better suited for long-term revenue production. Under the terms of the transfer, Seattle City Light must manage the parcel for fish and wildlife habitat, open space or recreation. Located two miles south of the Skagit River and bordering Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, the property includes spotted owl and marbled murrelet habitat, which reduced DNR’s ability to manage it for trust revenue.
The Board also approved the exchange of trust designations for two small state-owned parcels in King County. The exchange allows DNR to lease 30 acres of state trust land to King County for 50 years to manage for fish and wildlife habitat, open space or recreation. The Issaquah Creek lease parcel is on Issaquah Hobart Road, west of Tiger Mountain State Forest, which DNR manages. The County will pay $373,000, which is the appraised value of the lease—about 85 percent of the parcel’s full market value. The funds the state receives will be used for public school construction. DNR will continue to own and manage the parcels to support public school construction and King County public services.
The Trust Land Transfer Program
The Trust Land Transfer (TLT) program provides legislatively approved funding to transfer certain trust lands (at fair market value) to other public agencies, including the state's Natural Area Program. The lands are to be managed for specific public benefits: fish and wildlife habitat, open space or recreation.
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