Washington State Natural Resources Board approves purchase of 1,300 acres from Green Crow for US$2.1M, for working forest in Skagit, Snohomish counties

OLYMPIA, Washington , September 9, 2010 (press release) – State Natural Resources Board approves purchase of 1,300 acres for working forest in Skagit, Snohomish counties. More conservation land in Columbia River Gorge and on Lummi Island

The Board of Natural Resources yesterday approved the purchase of 1,300 acres of forestland in south-central Skagit County and northern Snohomish County. DNR’s purchase assures that the area will remain a working forest.

The property on the south end of Skagit County will be purchased from Green Crow Corp. for $2.1 million. The largest block of the purchase is immediately west of Lake Cavanaugh.

“This acquisition keeps forestland in production, which helps maintain rural jobs, retains our state’s natural resources heritage and allows the local watershed to continue producing clean water,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.

The purchase also allows the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to consolidate and more efficiently manage state-owned resource lands in the area for revenue to the Common School Trust and other trusts that support public institutions and services.

Trust Land Transfers add to conservation lands
In addition, the Board approved the transfer of 680 acres to the Columbia Falls Natural Area Preserve in Skamania County. The preserve, located 13 miles northeast of Camas, was established in 1991 to protect several plant species and the Larch Mountain salamander, listed by Washington State as a ‘threatened’ species. The area also features a natural, undisturbed forest and several plants that occur only in the Columbia River Gorge.

The land to be transferred from the Common School Trust into the Natural Area Preserve was already federally designated as part of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. That designation limited DNR’s options to produce natural resources trust revenue from the lands for trust beneficiaries, including K-12 public schools and county services. The transfer that the Board approved today will take place via the Trust Land Transfer (TLT) Program. The TLT Program uses legislatively appropriated funds to purchase replacement property for the Common School trust that is more suitable for natural resources revenue production to support public school construction.

Lummi Island Trust Land Transfer
The Board also approved the transfer of 10 acres into the Lummi Island Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) in Whatcom County. The parcel, near the southern tip of Lummi Island, contains important habitat for fish and wildlife. It also features expansive views of the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.

Lummi Island NRCA was established in 1991 and includes forested shorelines with steep, rocky headlands that provide habitat for birds of prey.

In both the Lummi Island and the Columbia Falls transactions the timber value of each parcel will go into the Common School Construction Account to build schools for K-12 education. The land value will go into the Real Property Replacement Account for DNR’s purchase of trust lands with greater revenue potential.

DNR managing land for trust beneficiaries
DNR manages 5.6 million acres of state land, including:

* 2.9 million acres of state trust lands that support public schools, universities, prisons, other state institutions, and county services;
* 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands; and
* 130,000 acres of Natural Areas and Natural Resource Conservation Areas.

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