FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2009
Board of Natural Resources approves purchase of 80 acres of forest at Blanchard Mountain
Maintaining working forests to prevent conversion to other uses
OLYMPIA – The state Board of Natural Resources today approved the purchase of 80 acres of forestland next to Blanchard Mountain state trust lands. The parcel will replace trust lands elsewhere on Blanchard Mountain that are to be conserved for their plant and wildlife habitat and low-impact recreation.
“This purchase will keep these lands as working forests and habitat,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Protecting this land from conversion will support local, sustainable jobs.”
Like the other State Forest trust lands on Blanchard Mountain, this addition will be managed to provide funding to schools and other services in Skagit County. Faced with rapid urban development encroaching into working forests, the 2007 Legislature provided $4 million for Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase forestland near the Blanchard Mountain trust lands. This 80-acre parcel uses $735,000 of that funding to purchase the tract from a willing private seller. The purchase also includes the state’s payment of $30,000 compensation tax to Skagit County (a one-time fee for lands that go into state ownership from the private sector).
“DNR is setting an example of how to hold the line against the conversion of productive forest to other uses, while recognizing the importance of working forests to Skagit County,” said Bob Rose, former President of Skagitonians to Preserve Farmlands, and a member of the Blanchard Strategies Group, which developed and recommended the strategies DNR is using to manage the 4,827-acre Blanchard Forest state trust lands.
“It’s wonderful that this southern slope of Blanchard Mountain, so visible to those visiting the tulip fields or enjoying Chuckanut Drive, will be in public hands to remain forever in forest,” said Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest and member of the Blanchard Forest Strategies Group.
State legislature funding supports working forests and the Blanchard Strategies Group vision
DNR convened the Blanchard Forest Strategies Group as a facilitated process involving a representative of DNR and nine others representing the diverse community associated with Blanchard Forest. In early 2007, the group developed and recommended a set of conceptual strategies for the management of the Blanchard Forest state trust lands. DNR accepted the recommendations with minor changes.
The Blanchard Strategies Group’s work blends continued revenue production for Skagit County services with diverse habitats and different recreation experiences for visitors to the forested area on the edge of Puget Sound. A key element of the strategies is financial compensation to the trust for lands that are protected in a ‘core’ area of the forest – about 1,600 acres. This is the first of several acquisitions intended to keep the trust ‘whole’ by replacing the protected 1,600 acres with other productive forestland nearby.
DNR managing land for trust beneficiaries
DNR manages 5.6 million acres of state land, including:
• 2.9 million acres of state trust lands that support public schools, universities, prisons, other state institutions, and county services;
• 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands; and
• 130,000 acres of Natural Areas and Natural Resource Conservation Areas.
Peter Goldmark is the 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889, and the first from Eastern Washington.
Media Contact: Bob Redling, senior communications manager, 360-902-1149, email@example.com
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