Donate Now! Subscribe

Washington Wild Coordinates Letter Supporting Funding to Protect State Lands on the Olympic Peninsula, Snohomish County, the San Juan Islands and Kitsap County

Posted on Mar 9, 2021 in Conservation News, WA Wild Blog

Morning Star photo courtesy of NRCA

Washington Wild sent a letter undersigned by 54 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations to the House Capital Budget and Senate Ways and Means Committees urging them to include funding for the Trust Land Transfer (TLT) program in the Capitol budget.

The ask for funding is to complete four high priority projects – Devils Lake, Morning Star, Eglon, and Blakely Island.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages more than 3 million acres of state trust forest, agricultural, range, and commercial properties. These properties earn income to fund schools, universities, capitol buildings, and other state institutions, while also helping to fund local services in many counties. 

Trust Land Transfers keep high priority conservation lands in protected public ownership while maintaining and improving economic returns to the trust beneficiaries. 

Since its inception in 1989, the Trust Land Transfer program has preserved more than 128,000 acres of state land for fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, education, and other community uses. Preserving land in this way has also sustained and improved potential future economic returns for schools and state and local governments. 

While DNR strives to improve returns from state trust lands, it’s important to understand that not all trust lands are best suited for income production from forestry.

Some trust lands also provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, recreation and educational opportunities for the general public, and older forests on Trust Lands are increasingly recognized for their important role in carbon sequestration. 

  1. Devils Lake (Jefferson County) — Located in Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula, the proposed Trust Land Transfer lands are 370 acres of School Trust lands within the Devils Lake Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) managed by the Department of Natural Resources. The area includes one mile of intact forested shoreline on steep slopes along Dabob Bay. This area offers diverse wildlife habitat and helps protect the water quality and shellfish industry. The project has received broad support at public hearings from private citizens, shellfish businesses, Tribes, and county government. 
  2. Morning Star (Snohomish County) — Located in Snohomish County, the proposed Trust Land Transfer lands are 1,090 acres of Common School and State Forest Trust lands within the Morning Star Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA). The property is near Spada Lake—which is a key drinking water source for Snohomish County—and contains uncommon forest and wildlife, including old-growth forests. 
  3. Blakely Island (San Juan County) – This proposed TLT project is an 85-acre property located along the eastern shoreline of Blakely Island and is one of the first views that tourists see when traveling on the ferry ride from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands. The shoreline provides important marine habitat and trees on the property exhibit many old-growth characteristics. San Juan County intends to manage this property to retain and preserve its high-quality habitat. Timber values will be deposited to benefit statewide K-12 school construction projects.
  4. Eglon Wetland (Kitsap County) – This proposed TLT project is a 640-acre property located north of Kingston and within 1⁄4 mile of Puget Sound. The northern portion of the property contains a large wetland bordered by trees that are 130+ years in age and a small stream flowing into Puget Sound. This large forestland tract and its associated wildlife habitat is rare for Kitsap County as the county has one of the highest population densities in the state. A trail on the property is used for public recreation and for pedestrian and bicycle transportation for this north Kitsap community. Kitsap County Parks intends to manage this property for public recreation, open space and wildlife habitat.

The role of state forests in fighting climate change, providing outdoor recreation for an increasing population, and protecting endangered wildlife habitat, grows in importance every year as does the demand for TLT program. With TLT, we are protecting the places that Washingtonians love while preserving the revenue stream that pays for necessary services. Keeping this program alive adds revenue to the trust beneficiaries and is critical for the future of conservation in Washington.