FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2012
Reconfiguration of state trust lands near Lake Whatcom approved
Board of Natural Resources also approves public auction of state-owned parcels in Okanogan County; OKs small-scale biomass direct sales
OLYMPIA – The state Board of Natural Resources (Board) today approved an exchange of trust designations for just over 4,700 acres of state trust lands bordering Lake Whatcom. The ‘inter-trust’ exchange approved today prepares for the Whatcom County Council’s anticipated request to regain ownership of a large section of state trust forestland in the Lake Whatcom watershed for use as a county park.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages thousands of acres in the Lake Whatcom area for the benefit of several state trust land beneficiaries, including Whatcom County schools and services. Currently, the various trusts’ ownerships are intermingled throughout the Lake Whatcom landscape; the inter-trust exchange will consolidate each trust’s holdings to improve their management efficiency.
DNR manages several hundred thousand acres of forestland, mostly in western Washington, for the benefit of several counties. Most of the trust lands were turned over to the state by counties in the early twentieth century after the forests were logged and abandoned by their owners. The state’s ‘reconveyance’ process gives counties the option to request ownership of those lands but only for use as parks, open space or wildlife habitat.
The Board today gave the go-ahead for a public auction of five parcels of state trust land in Okanogan County. Most of the parcels, which range between 30 and 40 acres in size, are non-irrigated lands and produce little or no income for the beneficiaries of the state’s Common School Trust and Normal School Trust (supporting construction at Western, Central and Eastern Washington State universities).
The auction date is tentatively scheduled for August 22, 2012, in the Okanogan County Commissioner’s Hearing Room. Minimum starting cash bids, which by law are set by independent appraisal, range from $63,500 to $380,000 per parcel. DNR will use the proceeds to purchase more productive natural resource lands to provide long-term support for public school construction statewide. The total appraised value of the parcels is $989,500.
The Board also authorized DNR to enter into small contracts of up to $25,000 for forest biomass sales without prior review by the Board. The move could help the state’s developing biomass-to-fuel forest products industry by boosting small-scale sales of forest biomass products from state trust lands. In addition to reducing wildfire risk by speeding the removal of potentially hazardous slash piles left after logging operations, the small-contract authority could be used when site conditions, such as size of the timber unit, prohibit biomass from being included in a larger contracts typically approved by the Board.
The Board today also approved a request by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark to retain DNR’s current 27 percent management fee through the end of Fiscal Year 2013, which is June 30, 2013. The Board acted in 2011 to lower the fee below the statutory ceiling of 30 percent in response to improved prices for the timber DNR auctions from state trust lands.
Beneficiaries of state trust lands include public K-12 schools statewide, several counties, state universities, the State Capitol campus, and state penal institutions. DNR retains a portion of the revenues it produces from those lands to replant forests, improve habitat, assure clean water, and other important forestland management activities.
New board member
The Board welcomed its newest member today, Steven West, professor and interim director of the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, to represent the interests of the university – a beneficiary of state trust lands. He replaces Thomas Hinkley, the school’s previous interim director.
More information about the proposed Lake Whatcom reconveyance:
More information about the Okanogan auctions:
DNR manages state trust lands
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. Of these, more than half are held in trust to produce income to support public schools, universities, prisons, and other state institutions. These state trust lands managed by DNR provide other public benefits, including outdoor recreation, habitat for native fish and wildlife, and watersheds for clean water.
Media Contact: Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, email@example.com
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