DNR, Forest Service sign Good Neighbor agreement

Partnership intended to streamline management of Washington public forests

Furthering work to advance healthy, resilient national forests, habitat, and communities, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Jim Peña jointly signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement today.
Stemming from authorities in the 2014 Federal Farm Bill, the Good Neighbor Authority allows the Forest Service to partner with the Department of Natural Resources for watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest System lands. It allows the agencies to share skills and funding in creative and collaborative ways to manage public forests and watersheds across jurisdictions.
National forests account for 9.3 million acres of forests in Washington, approximately 44% of the state total. Wildfires, habitat connectivity, species recovery, sustainable wood products, and job creation are among the challenges and opportunities facing these public lands.
“The social, economic, and environmental issues tied to public lands go far beyond their boundaries,” said Hilary Franz. “This agreement is an important tool that brings these issues together and makes problem solving through collaboration possible. We can get farther by working together than apart.”
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and no agency or organization can do it alone,” said Peña. “This Good Neighbor Authority agreement is a model for how the Forest Service can work together with state partners and communities more effectively—a win-win for the health of our forests and Washingtonians.”
“The agencies, along with help from local collaborative groups, are willing to roll up their sleeves and work on tough forest management issues that cross boundaries,” said State Forester Gerry Day. “We rely heavily on partnerships with public and private land owners to help rural communities, reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health, and address important habitat issues. Formal agreements like this will further strengthen our partnership with the Forest Service and provide a tool to boost land stewardship and rural communities.” 
The Washington Good Neighbor Master Agreement allows federal funds to be used by the state to work directly on federal public land and to leverage state and other dollars. This allows the state, U.S. Forest Service, and local partners to restore and enhance forests on a landscape level, rather than within jurisdictional or regulatory limitations.
Cori Simmons 
Washington State Department of Natural Resources 
Stephen Baker
United States Forest Service