Encumbered lands transfer will benefit counties, wildlife
December 9, 2021
The Washington Board of Natural Resources on Tuesday voted move 230 acres of county trust timberland into permanent conservation status and compensate counties for loss of the revenue producing timberland.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources will transfer 230 acres of state forestlands in Wahkiakum, Pacific and Skamania counties into permanent conservation status.
The 230 acres, which would have been managed to fund local services in the three counties, are being transferred to Natural Resources Conservation Areas (NRCA) to protect habitat for the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl. The lands have been encumbered from harvest in order to protect endangered species habitat.
The transactions are part of the State Forest Land Replacement Program, funded by the legislature, which compensates low-population counties that faced a disproportionate effect from conservation requirements from the Endangered Species Act.
In exchange for conserving these acres, the counties will receive $3.375 million, which will support local services. In addition, $1.125 million will go to the state’s Forest Development Account, which funds the reforestation of state forests. The value of the underlying land will be used to purchase replacement forestlands in the county that can be managed to generate funds for the county.
In Wahkiakum County, four parcels protecting occupied marbled murrelet nesting sites will be added to the Skamokawa Creek NRCA. Parcel A is 15.8 acres, Parcel C is 45.5 acres, Parcel D is 3.8-acres, and parcel F is 14.7 acres. All four contain stands of 80-to-100-year-old Douglas fir and western hemlock and are located approximately 10 miles north of Cathlamet.
Wahkiakum County will receive $1.034 million from the value of the timber, the Forest Development Account will receive $344,000, and $122,000 will go toward the purchase of future State Forestlands in the county.
In Pacific County, two parcels protecting occupied marbled murrelet nesting sites will be added to the Naselle Ridge NRCA.
Parcel A is 17.4 acres, located one mile north of Naselle. The site is a stand of 80-to-120-year-old Douglas fir and western hemlock with 500-plus-year-old western red cedars.
Parcel H is 52.2 acres, located 12 miles north of Naselle. The site is a stand of 80-to-100-year-old Douglas fir and western hemlock with 500-plus-year-old western red cedars.
Pacific County will receive $1.047 million from the value of the timber, the Forest Development Account will receive $349,000, and $104,000 will go toward the purchase of future State Forestlands in the county.
In Skamania County, a single parcel will add 80 acres of core northern spotted owl habitat to the Stevenson Ridge NRCA, six miles northwest of Stevenson. The site is a stand of 80-to-100-year-old Douglas fir and western hemlock.
Skamania County will receive $1.035 million from the value of the timber, the Forest Development Account will receive $345,000, and $120,000 will go toward the purchase of future State Forestlands in the county.
“As a steward of public lands, I know how important it is to safeguard and protect critical habitat,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who oversees DNR. “I also know how integral state forests are to rural counties west of the Cascades that depend on them to fund public services and sustain local jobs.
"By conserving targeted acres of pivotal habitat, we honor our obligation to vulnerable species, and by investing $4.5 million into our counties and our forests, we are taking care of our communities and local economies. This is a true win-win.”
Since the State Forest Land Replacement Program began in 2012, the three counties have received a combined $12.7 million and 1,580 acres of habitat have been permanently conserved. In addition, 344 acres of replacement forest have already been acquired.