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Washington Wild Sends Letter to Governor Jay Inslee Urging for Funding for Trust Land Transfer Program 

Posted on Oct 30, 2020 in Conservation News, WA Wild Blog

Morning Star photo courtesy of NRCA

Today, Washington Wild sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee undersigned by 37 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations urging Inslee to include funding for the Trust Land Transfer (TLT) program in the Governor’s budget for the 2021-23 session. 

The ask for funding is to complete three high priority projectsDevils Lake, Morning Star, and Cascade River 

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. 

Trust Land Transfers are recognized by the Department of Natural Resources as a much-needed asset management tool. However, a Trust Land Transfer project list was not proposed for the upcoming Governor’s budget due to a perceived lack of support. 

Washington Wild and the 37 undersigned organizations strongly support Trust Land Transfers. We’ve called on Inslee to fund these three high-priority projects that need completion: 

  1. Devils Lake — 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. 
  1. Morning Star — 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. 
  1. Cascade River — The Cascade River Trust Land Transfer project includes approximately1,200 acres on both sides of the Cascade River above Marblemount. It contains timber that is difficult to manage due to steep and rocky terrain and habitat for multiple endangered species, including chinook salmon. 

The Trust Land Transfer program protects the places that Washingtonians love while preserving an important revenue stream that pays for necessary services. The program is unique in that it allows the Department of Natural Resources to reposition its Trust assets for better economic return while also preserving valued landscapes in the state. Keeping this program alive and functional is critical for the future of conservation in Washington.