Board of Natural Resources approves purchase of 8,000 acres in eastern King County
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Board of Natural Resources approves purchase of 8,000 acres in eastern King County 
 


For Immediate Release
                                                                                                    
May 5, 2009

Board of Natural Resources approves purchase of 8,000 acres in eastern King County

Board approval allows DNR to move toward purchasing deed to privately owned forestland in Raging River and Grass Mountain watersheds

Board also approves auction of commercial property in Wenatchee

OLYMPIA – The Board of Natural Resources today approved a resolution authorizing the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to move ahead in seeking a deal with Fruit Growers Supply Company to acquire more than 8,000 acres of eastern King County forestland. About 7,062 acres of the planned purchase, located just south of I-90 and east of Highway 18 in unincorporated King County, would help link up several miles of the envisioned Mountains-to-Sound Greenway. A smaller parcel of 963 acres near Grass Mountain State Forest and about 8 miles northeast of Enumclaw would also be purchased. Both parcels would remain in commercial forestry.

“This purchase will permanently preserve another large piece of the greenway along I-90 for sustainable forestry, habitat, and public access,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “King County, Cascade Land Conservancy and Mountains-to-Sound Greenway have been terrific partners in helping make this purchase a reality.”

The negotiated purchase price of the deal, which is close to being finalized, is $22.5 million. The bulk of the funds ($18.8 million) was authorized by the legislature to come from a Common School Trust land replacement account – the proceeds of previous trust land transactions. The purchase would bring high-quality forestland with maturing timber into the Common School Trust, whose lands DNR manages to help pay for public school construction statewide. Both properties border existing state trust lands managed by DNR.

The King County Council yesterday authorized an appropriation of approximately $3.7 million toward the purchase. King County will use the funds to purchase some of the development rights in the Raging River area from Fruit Growers Supply Company. The County anticipates obtaining development rights on several thousand acres of the Raging River property so that it will remain commercial forestland and open space, and continue to protect area watersheds and wildlife habitat.
 
DNR announced in fall 2008 that it was working to acquire the land and invited King County to be a partner in the effort. DNR would acquire deeds to the properties and manage them for commercial forestry, wildlife and plant habitat, and to complement the water quality actions being taken in the City of Seattle’s adjoining watershed.

Auction set to sell former KMart property in Wenatchee
The Board today also approved plans to auction nine acres of Common School Trust land – the site of a 107,418 square-foot retail building ¬– just north of downtown Wenatchee. The auction is scheduled for June 26. At the auction, DNR will accept oral bids starting at the property’s current market value, $4.25 million, as recently determined by an independent appraisal.

The Common School Trust has received $7.94 million in rent payments from the former tenant, KMart, since DNR purchased the property in 1993 for $6.45 million. After KMart closed the store in 2006, DNR has unsuccessfully looked for replacement tenants. The department also offered the property for trade and considered subdividing it for smaller tenants. None of the options found takers at terms that would sufficiently protect the school trust’s investment in the property, the department determined.

DNR manages trust lands
DNR manages about 3 million acres of state-owned trust lands—forests, agricultural and conservation lands and commercial properties that provide long-term benefits to current and future trust beneficiaries and other residents of the state. Since 1970, management of trust lands has produced more than $6 billion in revenue, reducing the need for taxes to pay for building schools, universities, prisons, state mental hospitals, and community colleges, and to help fund local services in many counties and the state general fund.

DNR is administered by Peter Goldmark, 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, bob.redling@dnr.wa.gov.

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