State Land Transfer Adds 400 Acres to County Park Land on Lopez Island
May 2, 2018
About 400 acres of forested state trust land on Lopez Island will be transferred to San Juan County to manage for wildlife habitat and non-motorized recreation following yesterday’s action by the Board of Natural Resources. The forested parcel known as Lopez Hill contains an extensive recreational trail system; the county has leased it from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since 2009.
“This is a win-win for San Juan County and Washington State,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who chairs the Board of Natural Resources in addition to leading DNR. “San Juan County gains ownership of a popular recreation spot while the state gets funds to buy property elsewhere that will generate more long-term revenue for public school construction.”
"This is great opportunity for San Juan County through its Land Bank to permanently protect the land from development and manage it for its natural and recreational values. We are thrilled the State was willing to work with us to make it happen," said Jamie Stephens, San Juan County Council Member.
The county had initiated its 50-year lease of the DNR-managed property using a $5 million legislative appropriation to the state’s Trust Land Transfer (TLT) Program. By paying the lease’s $1 million remaining fee value, the county gains permanent ownership of the parcel.
DNR will use the $1 million property transfer payment to buy replacement properties elsewhere in the state for the Common School Trust, which funds K-12 public school construction statewide. The TLT Program was created by the legislature to help DNR replace Common School Trust Lands that produce little or no revenue with properties better able to produce sustainable long-term revenue. The Lopez Hill parcel includes several unique environmental, wetland and habitat features that, in addition to its island location, make it more difficult for DNR to conduct profitable timber harvests — the primary source of funding to the Common School Trust.
Board of Natural Resources
Chaired by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, the Board adopts policies, approves major commodity sales, and makes decisions about transactions of state lands managed by DNR. Its members represent the major beneficiaries of state trust lands, including public schools and universities as well as 21 counties where trust land revenues help support hospitals, libraries and other services. Since 1972, DNR-managed state trust lands have provided nearly $8 billion to trust land beneficiaries.
Public Information Officer
Public Information Officer