Board of Natural Resources approves large land exchange DNR and Fish and Wildlife Department would exchange 14,435 acres
OLYMPIA – The Board of Natural Resources today approved a proposal to exchange 14,435 acres between two state agencies. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would receive up to 5,400 acres of mostly forested land from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). In exchange, DNR would provide the wildlife agency up to 9,018 acres of shrub-steppe and forestland. The land values in the exchange are equal on both sides at approximately $4.9 million each.
“This exchange will be in the best interests of the state,” said Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark. As Commissioner, Goldmark chairs the Board of Natural Resources and leads the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “DNR will receive several thousand acres of high-elevation forestland, much of it bordering current trust lands, improving our options to manage these lands for trust income, wildlife habitat and recreation.”
The proposed exchange also requires approval by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is scheduled to vote on the proposal during a September 11 public meeting.
Most of the land DNR would receive in this exchange is forestland to manage for the Common School Trust. That trust’s lands provide more than $100 million annually in non-tax revenue for school construction. The exchange also would provide 286 acres to the University Trust whose lands DNR manages to support construction for the University of Washington.
A large portion of the lands on both sides of the exchange is in south Kittitas and north Yakima counties. The two agencies’ management holdings are currently in a checkerboard pattern of surveyed sections on the landscape rather than along natural ecological boundaries in the area.
In developing the exchange and selecting the properties involved in today’s decision, DNR conducted public hearings in three cities and held open houses and workshops in 11 cities. Both agencies also examined and gathered public comment about the potential environmental impacts of the exchange. Independent appraisals were conducted to assure that each trust involved in the exchange would receive land of equal value to the land it exchanged with WDFW.
Purchase of 2,309-acre tract of forestland at risk of conversion The Board today also approved a $6.6 million purchase of 2,309 acres of forestland from Rayonier. The mostly forested tract is in central Lewis County, about 3 miles south of Mossyrock. The acreage will add to the land DNR manages for the state’s Common School Trust.
“The Common School trust has gained a new holding that will be of great value, not only to the trust and the local timber economy but also to the people of Washington,” Goldmark said.
“We were glad to have the opportunity to work with DNR on a transaction that not only brings fair value to our shareholders, but also adds this high-quality property to a public trust,” said Charles Margiotta, Rayonier senior vice president of real estate. “We will continue to look for more opportunities to work together.”
Rayonier is an international forest products company that owns, leases or manages 2.6 million acres of timber and land in the United States and New Zealand, and is structured as a real estate investment trust.
The purchase reflects a legislative direction that DNR use funds from other land sales to purchase forestland at risk of conversion to other uses. Of the tract’s total appraised value, almost three-quarters ($5,443,000) is in maturing timber. Although the tract is prime forestland, it is just 15 minutes from Interstate 5 and zoned for 80-acre home sites.
The value of the tract was determined by appraisal. DNR will manage the acquired parcel for forest production that provides revenue to the Common School Trust, as well as for native plant and animal habitat, clean water, and public recreation.
About the Washington State Department of Natural Resources DNR manages about 5.6 million acres of state-owned trust forests; agricultural, aquatic, range and conservation lands; and commercial properties. DNR manages these properties to earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions, and help fund local services in many counties.