State Legislature Funds Additions to State Protected Areas
The Washington State Legislature approved funding in their capital budget for additions to Dabob Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) in Jefferson County and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area in King County.
In March, Washington Wild brought together 25 organizations on a joint comment letter to the State House and Senate Budget committees asking them to provide funding for new additions to National Resource Conservation Areas in Washington. We also activated our supporters to write their state legislators in support of the trust land transfers.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR) nominated four areas in Washington for Trust Land Transfer (TLT) into the Natural Resource Conservation Area program in the 2019-2021 Budget. These areas are located in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie (King County), Morning Star (Snohomish County) and Devils Lake and Dabob Bay in Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Dabob Bay trust land transfer would preserve 900 acres of trust land within the 2016 approved boundaries of the Dabob NRCA. Dabob Bay is recognized as one the most intact estuarine embayments remaining in Puget Sound, including pristine shorelines, globally imperiled plant associations, significant nearshore habitat for ESA listed salmon, and unstable slopes. Protection of this ecosystem will also help to insure the water quality of Puget Sound and the shellfish industry.
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie trust land transfer will add 23 acres to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA. This parcel is surrounded on three sides by the existing NRCA and will protect riparian areas along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River as well as protect a trail that provides river access.
The Trust Land Transfer program, initiated in 1989, is a tool that allows the WA DNR to manage special lands for conservation purposes while sustaining and improving potential revenue sources for trust beneficiaries. Since its inception, over 126,000 acres have been transferred through Trust Land Transfers.
WA DNR lands are managed as trust lands under the Washington Constitution. As a result, they are managed to benefit specific beneficiaries, mostly by providing revenue from timber harvest. However, in some cases DNR lands have been transferred from the Trust land to the DNR’s Natural Areas Program or to other agencies where they are managed for conservation, wildlife, watershed or recreation values.
National Resource Conservation Areas protect outstanding examples of native ecosystems, habitat for endangered, threatened and sensitive plants and animals, and scenic landscapes. Additionally, NRCAs can provide important economic benefits to local communities through direct and indirect spending associated with recreation, overnight stays, dining and more.
The DNR Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) program provides significant opportunities for public benefits by providing numerous ecosystem services and recreational opportunities for Washington residents and the general public. More than 118,700 acres are conserved in 36 Washington state NRCAs.