State Department of Natural Resources looking to replace two parcels of Power Plant sale

Commissioners want to know how it will impact junior taxing districts

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners urged a state Department of Natural Resources official to seek out acreage to replace the 69 acres of the canceled Power Plant sale that were moved into conservation status as part of the state’s cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions.

During their Monday work session, the three commissioners told Duane Emmons, DNR’s assistant deputy for state uplands, that before they give their concurrence to transferring the 69 acres, they want more information on the revenue impact to junior taxing districts, such as school districts and fire districts, and how the timber revenue would flow to those districts.

Commissioner Mark Ozias said they want the opportunity to ensure DNR addresses those issues and that they hope to get the concurrence letter out before the end of the month.

Commissioner Randy Johnson said the letter also should go to the junior taxing districts because they need to be kept in the loop.

“Whatever we decide, we need to send a letter to junior taxing districts and explain what we are doing and why. We absolutely need to keep them informed,” he said.

DNR manages 3 million acres of timber trust lands that are an ongoing source of land-based financial support to school districts and other junior taxing districts.

“Should the (board of commissioners) provide its concurrence, DNR and the purchaser of the timber sale will work to find replacement acres for the trust,” read a Dec. 18 letter to the commissioners from state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

“We definitely will find replacement land in the same county,” Emmons told the commissioners.

Ozias said the commissioners should ask county prosecutor Mark Nichols and perhaps state Attorney General Bob Ferguson if the legislation allows keeping replacement acreage in the same taxing district.

“If the legislation doesn’t allow maintaining taxing districts, that would be important to know,” Ozias said.

Emmons said the legislation applies in general to junior taxing districts.

“We are simply replacing timber volume,” he said. “Ideally, it is in the same taxing district. I do think the new language and authority applies to replacement lands but replacement volume.”

Ozias asked why DNR chose to include Power Plant acreage instead of the commissioners’ preference for the Shore Thing sale south of Lake Sutherland that is scheduled for 2028.

Johnson said, “You went through all the analysis of why this should go forward and now you are saying it should be,” adding later it was a political decision, not one made by experts.

Emmons said the legislation that provided the funding for the cap-and-trade program required them to pursue “co-benefits,” such as improving habitat for the Northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet and protecting riparian areas.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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