The state forestland parcels are spread across five counties — Clallam, Jefferson, King, Snohomish, and Whatcom. Two areas in Whatcom County, totaling 650 acres are included in the proposal.
The larger area includes an estimated 575 acres southeast of Lake Whatcom. Protecting the large, contiguous block of structurally complex forest within Lake Whatcom Watershed and adjacent to existing habitat conservation will provide the opportunity to use a number of conservation tools there in the future, including the possible creation of a Natural Resources Conservation Area. These lands primarily support the Common School Trust, which funds K-12 school construction statewide, and local services in Whatcom County.
The Brokedown Palace parcel is 75 acres just south of the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River that supports the Common School Trust as well as local services in Whatcom County. That land is contiguous with other areas managed for critical wildlife conservation provided by DNR’s State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, thus increasing wildlife connectivity and conservation.
The state Department of Natural Resources will need concurrence on the parcels from the county executive and council before they can be transferred. Upon receiving concurrence, the department will present the finalized list to the Board of Natural Resources.
If the board accepts the list of properties to be conserved, land transfers will occur as lands are acquired for each trust. Transfers must be appraised for full fair market value, and any acquisitions and transfers will be presented to the Board for approval.
“We applaud Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and the Washington State Legislature for conserving 2,000 acres of mature forests across Washington,” said Amy Brockhaus, deputy director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “Building on a proud legacy of conservation and stewardship, this critical investment upholds ecosystem health, carbon storage, habitat connectivity, and public access to nature for generations to come.”
“Protecting these 2,000 acres is a big step forward in yearslong efforts to ensure these forestlands can keep supporting critical habitat, cultural and recreational access, and a thriving economy,” said Vanessa Kritzer, executive director of the Washington Association of Land Trusts. “We thank the Legislature for its investment in these projects and hope to see more in the years ahead. We owe it to future generations to protect these vital lands, not only so they can walk their paths and experience their beauty, but also because these forests are key in the fight against climate change.”