Resources board approves purchase for county timberland
June 3, 2021
Wahkiakum County's ability to earn revenue from state managed trust timberland took a jump Tuesday as the state Board of Natural Resources approved a purchase of 266 acres of timberland to add to the county's trusts.
For much of his five-term tenure, Commissioner Dan Cothren has been lobbying state officials to increase the county's ability to earn money from the harvest of timber. The county has a little over 12,000 acres in trust timberland, but about one quarter of that is endangered species habitat and off limits to harvest.
Revenue from the timber trusts is important to courthouse budgets, and county commissioners have a long-term goal of increasing timber revenue to ease the county's dependence on appropriations from the state.
Attending the state board's Tuesday morning meeting online, Cothren was late to the county commission meeting but was happy to share the news.
"That was a huge thing," he said. "This is something we've been shooting for for a long time.
"This is my goal; I want to get it done. Then I can move on."
The state board's decision authorizes the state Department of Natural Resources to purchase six parcels from a local family.
Of the six parcels, five will be managed to generate revenue for Wahkiakum County, the agency said in an announcement. The county receives an average of $1.8 million in non-tax revenue each year from timber sales. The sixth parcel will be managed to generate revenue for the Common School Trust, which supports K-12 school construction across Washington.
“Forestry is the lifeblood of the communities of Wahkiakum County, and I am proud of the impact that DNR’s work makes there,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who oversees DNR. “By adding productive forestland in prime timber country and blocking up lands, this improves DNR’s ability to produce reliable revenue for critical county services for both present and future generations.”
Cothren said the acquisition will demonstrate to legislators that it is practical and beneficial to enlarge county trust timberland.
“This shows the legislature that we are serious about acquiring lands in these areas," Cothren said in the announcement. "We are trying to build on this by being able to purchase these lands to control our own destiny. This builds into our future, and our goal is to increase our land base. "This is just the beginning to get bigger holdings to tie into and keep the county solvent into the future. That’s always been our goal – to control our own destiny, to not have to rely on anyone else.”
Parcels 1 through 3 are a combined 109 acres of approximately 15-year-old stands of Douglas fir, western hemlock, and red alder, directly adjacent to DNR-managed lands north of Skamokawa. Parcels 4 and 5 are a combined 76 acres along state Route 4 between Skamokawa and Grays River that are a mixed 40-year-old stand of western hemlock and Douglas fir. The five parcels, valued at a total of $520,000 are the first lands in Wahkiakum County paid for with State Forestland Replacement funds appropriated by the legislature.
The sixth parcel, also adjacent to state Route 4 just outside Skamokawa, is 82 acres of mixed-age Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar. The parcel was purchased with $60,000 from the Real Property Replacement Account, which allows DNR to replace sold lands with lands better suited to generate revenue.