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🚨TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Representatives to Revitalize the Trust Land Transfer Program

Posted on Feb 27, 2023 in Action Alerts, Conservation News, WA Wild Blog

In Washington state, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages more than three million acres of state trust land. Revenue generated by these trust lands enters a fund that supports K-12 schools, universities, capitol buildings, and state institutions, as well as essential services such as fire, EMT, ports, and libraries. When it is determined that certain trust lands provide greater social and/or ecological benefits, the TLT program provides funding for DNR to conserve those lands while purchasing more economically profitable replacement lands elsewhere. 

Since its inception in 1989, the TLT program has preserved more than 128,000 acres of state trust land for fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, education, and other community uses. Some of the state’s most treasured places—Mt. Si, Blanchard Mountain, and Deception Pass State Park—have benefitted from the TLT program. At the same time, DNR has improved economic returns for the state trust.

Photo: Deception Pass State Park, Christopher Newton

A major priority for Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and conservation groups throughout the state, HB 1460 would modernize the TLT program in several ways:

  1. Increase Transparency – HB 1460 would put TLT into state law, creating a consistent process for nominating, evaluating, approving, and prioritizing trust land transfer projects, allowing for more public input. 
  2. Increase Flexibility –  By applying the program to all state trusts (not just the common school trust) HB 1460 will allow DNR to better manage its complete land portfolio to improve financial returns to trust beneficiaries and more easily transfer land for local community uses when applicable. 
  3. Maximize Benefits – By eliminating the 80/20 rule, an outdated funding formula that mandates 80% of the legislative appropriation be “cashed out” (i.e. spent on school construction) instead of allowing for greater reinvestment in more productive lands, HB 1460 will better support trust beneficiaries over the long term.

Ultimately, the reforms included in HB 1460 would make Trust Land Transfer more efficient, equitable and profitable, making it an even more successful conservation tool moving forward.