Public land transfer provisions removed from Senate Bill 6140

Public land transfer provisions removed from Senate Bill 6140

Conservation Northwest / Feb 21, 2018 / Protecting Wildlands, Public Lands, State Forest Lands

Amendment also ensures that values from ecosystem services and recreation benefits be included in an assessment of Washington state forest lands.

We’re relieved to announce that as of Wednesday, February 21, 2018, Washington Engrossed Senate Bill 6140 has been amended by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Concerning public land transfer provisions have been removed and a commitment to consider the value of ecosystem services and recreation benefits in a state forest land assessment has been added through Amendment 202, sponsored by Representative Mike Chapman.

Along with ten other conservation and outdoor recreation organizations, we have also submitted a thank you letter to Chairman Brian Blake and the members of the Committee to express our collective appreciation for these modifications to SB 6140. That letter is available here.

From the Olympic Peninsula and Capitol forests to Blanchard and Tiger mountains, Washington’s State Forests are among some of our region’s most popular lands for outdoor recreation and other activities. Photo: DNR

On Friday, February 16, we issued a WILD NW Action Alert regarding Section 6 of this legislation, to which more than 430 Washingtonians responded over a busy holiday weekend, sending thousands of poignant messages to state lawmakers about the need to protect public forest lands from misguided provisions in this bill.

THANK YOU to everyone who took action—this amendment is a clear example of the power of your voice!

Our Policy Director Paula Swedeen, representatives from a number of other conservation and recreation organizations, and several private citizens also testified at the committee hearing for this bill on Tuesday, February 20 in Olympia, expressing desire to see Section 6 removed or replaced with language that recognizes the importance of state public forests and the significant values these lands provide Washingtonians and local communities beyond timber revenue.

Unlike traditional trusts, Washington’s constitution directs that the lands granted to the state be managed for all the people. Some of Washington’s most popular outdoor places are State Forest Lands, including Blanchard, Tiger Mountain, and Capitol State Forests. These are not places to be managed for maximum timber revenue in disregard for the other benefits they provide. And there are real social, cultural and economic benefits from the outdoor recreation and environmental values these lands offer.

We recognize that balancing these challenging obligations is anything but easy, and requires patience, study and forbearance. We’re grateful that Representative Chapman, Chairman Blake, Representative Fitzgibbon and the other members of the Committee applied these virtues by amending Senate Bill 6140.