FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2013
Natural Resources Board approves land transfer to create county park at Lake Whatcom
Loan to assist state’s purchase of Teanaway property and land transfers to protect timber jobs and habitat in Pacific County also approved
OLYMPIA – At its regular monthly public meeting yesterday, the Board of Natural Resources (Board) approved the transfer of approximately 8,400 acres of State Forest Trust land in the Lake Whatcom watershed to Whatcom County for use as a park. The Board action responds to a request by the Whatcom County Council to regain ownership of the majority of the state forest trust land in the watershed.
Like many other counties in western Washington, Whatcom County deeded forestland to the state in the early twentieth century after the forests had been logged and abandoned by their private owners. State statute allows those counties to request a return – “reconveyance” – of those lands, but only for use as a park.
The Board yesterday also approved a loan of $10 million from the DNR’s Real Property Replacement Account to assist the state’s purchase of a 50,000-acre, privately owned commercial timber property north of Cle Elum, known as the Teanaway.
The legislature funded $89 million of the $99 million purchase, which is considered a key element in the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a long-planned project to increase water availability for agriculture, development, and instream flow for vital watershed habitats across the Yakima River Basin. The purchase also will protect habitat for threatened species, including the northern spotted owl, and safeguard public access for recreation on a cherished local landscape.
The Washington State Legislature directed DNR to manage the property as a Community Forest in collaboration with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. An additional 5,000 acres of DNR-managed state trust lands would be added through a future transfer into the Community Forest.
Pacific County transfer to protect jobs and habitat
The Board also approved the transfer to conservation status of 27.9 acres of State Forest Trust land near Naselle in Pacific County. The legislatively funded transaction will pay the county just over $511,000 for the timber on the parcel, which is encumbered by federal endangered species restrictions. The funding through State Forest Trust Replacement Program targets small, economically stressed rural counties that depend heavily on timber revenue to support public services.
The Board yesterday set DNR’s fee for managing state trust lands at 29 percent of gross revenues from sales of natural resource products, including timber. In 2011, the Board lowered the management fee to 27 percent to increase the stream of revenue to budget-strapped trust land beneficiaries, including public schools. The statutory ceiling for the management fee is 30 percent. The Board also set DNR’s fee for managing State Forest Trust lands, which support public services in many counties, at 25 percent of gross revenues; it had been 21 percent since 2011.
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
Media Contact: Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, firstname.lastname@example.org
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