The easement setting aside approximately 25 acres as permanent wildlife habitat was purchased from Hancock Timber Resource Group for $460,000. It is the first conservation easement purchased through the expanded Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program, which the Washington Legislature funds to protect upland critical habitat for northern spotted owl and other species of concern designated by the state’s Forest Practices Board.
“This purchase is an example of how DNR and the private sector can work together to protect endangered species while retaining an economically viable forest industry,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who leads DNR.
“These lands contain some of the best northern spotted owl habitat available on non-federal lands in Washington state and now they will remain that way,” said Joe Stohr, deputy director, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“As a forest manager, we have a strong interest and a long history in working with other partners to create conservation easements on lands with such high ecological value to threatened and endangered species,” said Tim McBride, wildlife biologist for the Hancock Timber Resource Group.
In addition to forestland and open space, the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program allows DNR to purchase conservation easements on properties where a river’s active channel meanders – known as channel migration zones. These islands of timber tend to have high ecological value to species like salmon and steelhead. Since 2002, the state of Washington has invested more than $4 million to purchase conservation easements on more than 1,000 acres of private forest land through the program. DNR also accepts donations of land for conservation easements.
Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program
The Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program ensures the long-term conservation of aquatic resources and upland habitats by acquiring conservation easements on lands and timber within a specific type of channel migration zone and habitat of threatened and endangered species. DNR screens applications, prioritizes qualifying applications, and acquires land based on available funding from the state legislature. DNR ranks applications in priority for funding based on habitat quality, risk of habitat loss, occupancy, landscape continuity, known presence of other threatened or endangered species, and other criteria.
Landowners who wish to learn more about the program may reach Dan Pomerenk, conservation easement program manager, at 360-902-1427 or by email at email@example.com More information about the program is on the DNR website at: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/forest-practices/small-forest-landowners/rivers-and-habitat-open-space