FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2011
Community Forest Trust bill signed into law by Governor Gregoire
New trust gives communities a way to preserve productive forestland, habitat and timber jobs
OLYMPIA – Legislation signed into law today by Governor Chris Gregoire creates a new tool for communities, large or small, to buffer vital working forestlands from development.
The Community Forest Trust legislation is designed to prevent the conversion of working forests into housing or other types of development. In doing so, it also can support the clean air, sustainable working lands, and quality of life forestlands provide to many communities.
“Protecting working forests protects local timber jobs and economies, but it also preserves the clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and other values these lands provide to us,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark at the bill’s signing today.
Creation of the new state trust and its operating principles were authorized by Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1421, which was sponsored by Sen. Karen Fraser (D-22nd) and Rep. Christine Rolfes (D-23rd), and passed by the Washington Legislature in April.
“This bill will help cities and counties around the state work in partnership with DNR to maintain their quality of life and maintain working landscapes,” said Rep. Rolfes. “It’s a great option for forested communities on the urban fringe to take a look at when planning for their future.”
The measure also received support from the forest industry and environmental groups.
“We are periodically approached by community groups interested in purchasing portions of our lands that have special values outside their use as tree farms; however, it is more challenging than ever to find the financial means for communities to turn their energy and passion into land ownership,” said David L. Nunes, President & CEO of Pope Resources and Olympic Resource Management. “The Community Forest Trust bill provides a welcome new avenue and tool to help communities preserve and protect local lands that are important to them.”
“While the Community Forest Trust is not an end-all solution to the loss of working lands, it can help protect a large amount of land and help ensure the timber industry remains a strong component of our state’s economy,” said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Conservation Northwest.
The Community Forest Trust lands could help buffer public or private working forests from encroaching development without the expenses of managing them as parkland.
The Community Forest Trust legislation focuses on working forestlands near urban and other developed areas where the parcels of forest may be suitable to manage successfully for natural resources income. Instead of requiring these trust lands to produce income at levels needed to adequately support public services or institutions, as do other state trusts, Community Forest Trust lands would need only to generate enough revenue to reimburse the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) for managing them.
The measure was requested by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark in January 2011.
Media Contact: Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, firstname.lastname@example.org
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