Commissioner Franz Responds to Attempt to Undercut Murrelet Plan
June 8, 2018
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz issued the following statement in response to an appropriations amendment from Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler that would disrupt development of the Department of Natural Resources’ Long-term Conservation Strategy for the endangered marbled murrelet on state lands:
“This amendment threatens to derail both marbled murrelet protection and timber harvests that create jobs and revenue for state beneficiaries.
“We must reject the stale ideology that seeks to pit us against each other and falsely forces us to choose between protecting our environment and creating economic opportunity.
“We’ve spent years working to meet our legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act and bring tens of thousands of acres of working forest back online. We need to complete the long-term conservation strategy, based on sound science, and not add years of more process and litigation that further delays the opportunity to re-open working forests.
“Only by working together, and doing so in good-faith, will we develop bold new strategies to achieve shared success by lifting up our rural communities and protecting endangered species.
“That is why I have convened a Solutions Table – comprised of community, conservation and economic interests – to create policies that will protect and create jobs in our resource-dependent communities and identify proposals to further assist the marbled murrelet.”
As required under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), the State Board of Natural Resources – chaired by Commissioner Franz – is developing a long-term conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet on state lands. That strategy includes conserving some state forests for marbled murrelet habitat while allowing for timber harvests that generate revenue for public schools, libraries, hospitals and other trust land beneficiaries.
For several years, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been negotiating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in good faith, and using the best available science, to develop the conservation strategy.
The strategy is scheduled to be completed within the timeframe of the 2019 federal budget.
While DNR is working to complete the plan, DNR is required to hold lands beyond what will be committed under its long-term plan. While they are held, these lands cannot be managed for revenue production.
If the USFWS is prohibited from both negotiating with DNR on the Long-term Conservation Strategy and approving a strategy that complies with the ESA (as required by Congresswoman Herrera-Beutler’s appropriations amendment), the process will be halted and likely become embroiled in legal challenges that will last for years.
That will simply further delay the release of important lands for timber harvest – which generate revenue for our schools and counties – thereby hurting the very counties and schools and timber industry jobs Congresswoman Herrera Beutler wants to help.
Managing Working Forests for Public Benefit
Led by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, DNR manages 3 million acres of trust land to provide revenue for schools, hospitals, libraries, and other critical public services. State trust forests are protected from development, clean our air and water, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.