Trust Land Transfer

The State of Washington’s Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) owns land that qualifies for full “Wilderness” protection, but the Wilderness Act only applies to Federal Land. So conservationists like N3C have been working to transfer wild State Trust Lands into permanent Wilderness-equivalent protection called “Natural Resource Conservation Areas” (NRCAs). Places like Ashland Lakes:

These places are both gorgeous wilderness in their own right, and prime recreational lands for hikers and backpackers. In order to transfer them into protected status, the value of the land and the timber on it must be paid to DNR, and this year DNR has requested almost $30 million for the Trust Land Transfer (TLT) program to do just that. Included among the projects is an addition of 1,090 acres to the Morningstar NRCA. Unfortunately,the Governor’s budget request for TLT is only about $15 million, half of what the DNR requested.

While Gov. Inslee’s request is disappointing, the Morningstar addition is one of the 4 projects he included in this budget request. So we have an excellent opportunity to add more than 1000 acres of glorious upland forest near Mt. Pilchuck that deserves protection to the Morningstar NRCA.

But time is of the essence. Appropriations decisions are currently being made in this legislative session! Unprotected state-owned forest lands are subject to periodic logging. This scene is just outside the NRCA:

If you are a Washington resident, please write your state legislator and ask that s/he support the DNR’s requested appropriation figure of $30 million. Specifically mention the Morningstar addition as a key project and one of only four in the DNR list of proposed projects that is included in the Governor’s budget. While much of the news is disheartening concerning our wild areas these days, here we still have a chance to move protection forward on the state-level by supporting the DNR’s excellent efforts to create a State system of ecologically critical areas.
Please write to your legislators today and CC the DNR and the Governor at the addresses below.

State Legislators:

DNR’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz:

Gov. Inslee:

Here are maps – one of the proposed additions, and a general area map of Morningstar NRCA (click to enlarge):