FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2009
Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area expanded by 2,100 acres
Three Olympic Peninsula tribes to acquire ‘canoe trees’ from state trust land
Board of Natural Resources also approves exchange of 17,569 acres in southwest Washington
OLYMPIA – The Board of Natural Resources today approved adding approximately 2,100 acres to the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), reserving its use mainly for environmental education and low-impact public uses, such as hiking.
“With this addition, the Mount Si NRCA is now protecting more than 12,000 acres from development in eastern King County,” said State Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark.
In addition to the action on Mount Si NRCA, the Board approved adding 149 acres to the Tiger Mountain NRCA located just north of Highway 18 and 6 miles west of North Bend. All of the properties will be managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their ecological and social values.
Both of the NRCA additions approved today came in the form of transfers from the Common School Trust, which helps build public schools statewide. The transfers were made through the state’s Trust Land Transfer Program using legislatively appropriated funds. The assessed values of the standing timber on the Mount Si transfer ($4.69 million) and the Tiger Mountain transfer ($1.11 million) will be used for school construction. The land value of the areas transferred – $2.1 million for the Mount Si transfer and $112,000 for the Tiger Mountain parcels – will be used to purchase suitable replacement lands for the Common School trust.
Board approves sale of three large ‘canoe trees’
The Board today also authorized DNR to sell three ‘canoe trees’ (large diameter trees) from the Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF) at their appraised value to the Potlatch Fund. The trees will be donated by the Potlatch Fund to members of the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute Native American Tribes to carve into traditional canoes and use for other cultural or spiritual purposes.
“Using these trees is part of a resurgence of the culture, health and well-being of our tribal communities and I’m delighted DNR is a part of that,” said Colleen Jollie, a board member of the Potlatch Fund, following the Board’s approval.
Ken Gordon, executive director of the Potlatch Fund, says each Tribe will be asked to make the maximum use possible of all parts of the tree for traditional ceremonies and to restore the site and plant new trees.
“We also hope to establish a committee of tribal representatives to evaluate requests and we will urge applicants to also look at sources such as the U.S. Forest Service, privately owned trees, and trees in other states,” Gordon said.
A 2006 settlement between several environmental advocacy organizations and DNR prohibits the harvest of old trees from the OESF; however, the parties to that settlement have agreed to support the harvest of three trees under the proposal approved today. The Board also approved a specific process for federally recognized tribes to acquire cultural trees from state trust lands in certain circumstances.
The three purchases approved today will be funded by the Potlatch Fund, a non-profit that promotes education, cultural preservation and health of Northwest native peoples and their communities.
Land exchange in southwest Washington
The Board today also approved the exchange of 8,565 acres of state trust land in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties for 9,004 acres of property owned or being acquired by Port Blakely Tree Farms, LP. The several state trusts involved will acquire property in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Skagit and Thurston counties as a result of the exchange.
“Thousands of additional acres of prime forestland across western Washington will be protected and remain working forest,” Goldmark said. “Not only does this exchange remove the last large private in-holding from the Capitol Forest, we also will be able to connect the Willapa Hills Trail with public land so more people can enjoy it.”
Most of the lands the state trusts gain in the exchange border large blocks of forested state trust land. The exchange will help improve DNR’s ability to efficiently manage trust lands for timber, habitat and public recreation.
Independent appraisals were conducted to assure that each trust involved in the exchange received lands of equal value to lands it exchanged, including the value of timber on the land.
The exchange involves lands from the Common School trust and four smaller state trusts whose beneficiaries include county services and state universities.
The exchange with Port Blakely was preceded by approval of several intergrant exchanges repositioning lands between trusts so that the counties involved did not lose potential revenue from State Forest Transfer lands.
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. Trust lands also provide habitat for myriad native plants and animals, and provide recreational and educational opportunities to millions of visitors each year.
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, email@example.com
[Maps of the areas discussed in this news release and high resolution photos of Mt. Si are available to the media on request to: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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