FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2011
Public Lands Commissioner proposes increasing funds for school construction and communities
Stronger timber market creates opportunity for DNR to reduce resource management expenses below the statutory cap
OLYMPIA – Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark will propose reducing the management expenses retained by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at the April 5 meeting of the Board of Natural Resources. The step, made possible by rising timber prices, would create an opportunity to send a greater percentage of the non-tax revenue that DNR produces from state lands to trust beneficiaries, such as schools and counties.
“Strong demand for timber has given us confidence that we can send more money to counties and to build schools,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “More non-tax revenue from state lands can take pressure off of the General Fund and provide local governments with desperately needed cash.”
Due to a weak economy and slumping timber prices, the Natural Resources Board was forced in 2009 to place the fees DNR uses to manage state trust lands at the maximum statutorily allowable level—30 percent of total revenue. Recent improvements in the timber market have created a positive balance in the management funds.
Goldmark’s recommendation to lower the percentage of funds going to manage the state’s trust land assets will allow more of the positive balance to go to trust beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of state trust lands include public K-12 schools statewide, several counties, the state universities, the State Capitol campus, and state penal institutions.
If approved by the board, DNR’s management funds will be reduced by 10 percent. DNR’s management fee for trust land activities that benefit school construction, universities and capital projects at the State Capitol would be reduced from 30 percent to 27 percent. The management fee for trust land activities that benefit counties and their junior taxing districts, such as schools, hospitals, libraries and emergency services, would be reduced to 23 percent of total revenue.
The reductions would still allow DNR to continue managing state trust lands effectively for habitat, clean water and sustainable production of natural resources-based revenues. The proposed action would allow additional funds to be sent to trust beneficiaries.
DNR manages state trust lands
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. Of these, some 2.1 million acres are forested state trust lands managed to produce income to support public schools, universities, prisons, and other state institutions. These working forests also provide other public benefits, including outdoor recreation, habitat for native fish and wildlife, and watersheds for clean water. DNR is administered by Peter Goldmark, the 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.
Media Contact: Bryan Flint, Director of Communication and Outreach, 360-902-1023, firstname.lastname@example.org