FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2012
Wahkiakum County to receive funds for transfer of state forestlands off-limits to timber harvests
Board of Natural Resources action will provide new revenue to struggling timber county in southwest Washington
OLYMPIA – The state Board of Natural Resources today approved the transfer of 67 acres of State Forest Trust land in Wahkiakum County to conservation status. It is the first transaction under a legislatively funded program created in 2009 to replace certain state-owned working forestlands encumbered by federal endangered species restrictions. The program targets small, economically stressed rural counties that depend heavily on timber revenue to support public services.
“This is the first of several land transfers that will provide small, timber-dependent counties like Wahkiakum with needed dollars,” said Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands. “These transactions help counties weather the financial impacts of important federal wildlife protections.”
An appropriation by the 2011 Legislature provides $640,000, based on the value of timber on the 67-acre parcel north of Cathlamet. Wahkiakum County will get $505,000 with most of the remainder going to reimburse the state forest land management account for costs already incurred in the stewardship of these lands. The parcel is among the several thousand acres of forestland that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages to support Wahkiakum County services.
“Our county relies on timber revenues from State Forest Trust lands, but it is clear that this parcel will not be harvested anytime soon,” said Dan Cothren, Wahkiakum County Commissioner. “The funding this transfer will provide is huge for Wahkiakum County because our budgets have been hit hard by low timber prices in recent years.”
Following the transfer of the parcel into conservation status, DNR will use $27,000 of the legislative appropriation – reflecting the parcel’s land value – to purchase replacement working forestland elsewhere in Wahkiakum County.
DNR will manage the 67-acre parcel as a Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). The parcel was determined to be occupied by marbled murrelets, a threatened sea bird that nests inland in old trees.
The Board today also welcomed its newest member, Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose, who will represent the counties with state forest trust lands managed by DNR.
State forest replacement lands program
The 2009 Legislature created a program to help relieve the impact of long-term, endangered, species-related habitat conservation restrictions on State Forest Trust lands. The program is targeted to small timber-dependent counties, namely Klickitat, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum. An appropriation by the 2011 Legislature provides funding to create the NRCA and pay the county for the timber on that parcel.
NRCAs are conservation areas that protect outstanding examples of native ecosystems, scenic landscapes, and habitat for endangered, threatened and sensitive plants and animals. Low impact public uses, such as hiking, are allowed in NRCAs if they do not impair the protected resource.
DNR manages State Forest Trust lands
DNR manages just over a half million acres of state forestlands for the benefit of 20 counties, mostly in western Washington. Much of the acreage was deeded by the counties to the state’s care in the early 20th Century after the lands were heavily logged and abandoned by private owners.
Media Contact: Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, email@example.com
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