Hearing set on DNR land transfer

More land would be transferred to Dabob Bay conservation area

OLYMPIA – The state Department of Natural Resources plans a public hearing in Quilcene this coming Monday to discuss a proposed Inter-Trust Exchange.

The exchange would allow for the future transfer of up to 826 acres of State Forest Land Trust forestland near Quilcene into the DNR-managed Dabob Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), DNR said in a press release.

It would be for equal-valued parcels of Common School Trust forestland in the same area. All parcels involved in the transaction would remain in state ownership.

The in-person meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at the Quilcene School multipurpose room at 294715 U.S. Highway 101.

Those who want to speak are advised to arrive early to sign up. COVID-19 health protections will be in effect.

A Zoom webinar is available for those who wish to attend online. Register in advance at tinyurl.com/DabobMeeting.

Once registered, an attendee will receive a confirmation email containing instructions on how to join the webinar as well as optional information to join by phone.

“The formal comment period opens with the meeting, so there is ample time for feedback to help shape this transaction,” said Kenny Ocker, DNR communications manager.

DNR is accepting written comments about the proposed land exchange until 5 p.m., Aug. 10, the agency said in the press release.

Email comments to exchanges@dnr.wa.gov. Mail written comments to the Department of Natural Resources, Conservation, Recreation and Transactions Division, Attn: Dabob Bay Inter-Trust Land Exchange, P.O. Box 47014, Olympia, WA 98504-7014.

“The legislature approved funding for this transaction in 2019 and the public comment period is the final step to permanently conserve the state forest as part of the Natural Area and reimburse the timber trusts,” said Connie Gallant, president of the Olympic Forest Coalition board.

Gallant urges residents to attend and/or comment on this proposal, saying that the coalition supports DNR’s proposed protection of state forestlands within the Dabob Bay Natural Area boundaries.

She also said that Common School Trust parcels 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13 on the Toandos Peninsula should not be included in the exchange “as these involve globally rare forest types that DNR is obligated to protect and which are proposed for conservation.”

Said Peter Bahls, executive director of the Northwest Watershed Institute, in an email: “C11 and C12 contain the globally imperiled (G2) forest type identified by DNR, C13 has a Priority 1 state listed critical forest habitat type ,and C5 and C6 are part of larger forest block that contains the G2 forest type.

“These patches are part of a future expansion of the Dabob Bay Natural Area — not part of this public hearing — proposed by local and statewide conservation groups and shellfish growers that would protect shorelines of Dabob Bay and the largest high quality example of a rare type of rhododendron forest in the world.”

DNR said in a press release that candidate land exchange properties are:

• State Forest Land Trust to Common School Trust: Secs. 13, 22, 26, 27, 34, 35, T27N, R1W, W.M., Sec. 3, T26N, R1W, W.M., Jefferson County, Washington; comprising 820 acres, more or less.

• Common School Trust to State Forest Land Trust: Sec. 8, T30N, R1W, W.M., Secs. 13, 24, T30N, R2W, W.M., Secs. 12, 36, T28N, R2W, W.M., Secs. 16, 33, 34, T28N, R1W, W.M., Sec. 7, T28N, R1E, W.M., Secs. 15, 16, T27N, R2W, W.M., Secs. 26, 35, T27N, R1W, W.M., Secs. 16, 33, T26N, R1W, W.M., Jefferson County, Washington; comprising 2,300 acres, more or less.

Trust Land Transfer program funding from the state Legislature would compensate the Common School Trust for the value of the property to be transferred into the Dabob Bay NRCA, DNR said.

In the long term, all or part of the parcels transferred to the Common School Trust are planned for transfer into the Dabob Bay NRCA, DNR said in the release.

A portion of the Dabob Bay property is currently managed as State Forest land, which helps support Jefferson County and its local taxing districts.

Under state law, only Common School Trust properties may be transferred through the Trust Land Transfer program, but state law permits DNR to propose inter-trust exchanges to meet the needs of the trust beneficiaries, DNR said.

For more information and to view maps, see www.dnr.wa.gov.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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