APRIL 2017 Blanchard UPDATE
The House Capital Budget Bill includes $10M to complete Blanchard, through the Trust Land Transfer Program. See Sec 3254(7) of the bill. The key language:
(7) By June 30, 2019, the state treasurer shall transfer to the common school construction account any unexpended balance of the appropriation in this section.
Appropriation: State Building Construction Account—State. . . . . . $10,000,000
That $10M is in reference to this supplemental document which you’ll notice it truly brief, simply mentioning “Harriet A. Spanel State Forest.” This is Blanchard (it has been recommended to be re-named).
However, the Senate Budget had no new funding for Blanchard.
Thus we will need the legislature to figure out how to reconcile the bills overall, including that the House has $10M for Spanel (our new name) and the Senate has none.
But we got this far to date.....
You as constituents were amazing and truly helping to move the money to the mountain!!
As Representative Jeff Morris wrote in his enewsletter this week:
“I am very happy to report that the House capital budget has chosen to fund Blanchard Mountain within an existing program that deals with timber trust land.
The Trust Land Transfer program is administered by the Department of Natural Resources, and it exchanges underperforming trust lands for more economically viable timber lands.
Through this program, many designated trust lands have been preserved for other uses when they cease to provide timber revenue. We appropriated $10m in the House capital budget for the Trust Land Transfer Program. (There is no funding for this item in the Senate capital budget.)”
Actions for the Legislative Session
1) Thank our key people in the House: Chairman Steve Tharinger and Rep Jeff Morris (40th district and on budget committee). They put full funding in the House budget. Also thank Rep Norma Smith (10th district republican and on capital budget committee) and Rep David Hayes (10th) who supported Blanchard funding in the House Budget and Rep Beth Doglio (budget vice-chair). And of course thank Rep Kris Lytton who has supported Blanchard all along and devised the Trust Land Transfer solution with Rep Morris.
email@example.com; Morris, Rep. Jeff <Jeff.Morris@leg.wa.gov> (360) 786-7884 | firstname.lastname@example.org; Rep Beth Doglio (360) 786-7992; Rep Kris Lytton (360) 786-7800; Rep David Hayes 360) 786-7914 | email@example.com
2) Express disappointment to Senators Barbara Bailey and Kirk Pearson about the Senate Budget but thank them for their support personally for Blanchard and its funding. Ask them to express their support for funding Blanchard through the Trust Land Transfer program to the Ways and Means leadership (Senator Honeyford (R ) and Senator Frockt (D….who was supportive).
3) Thank Senator Ranker and Senator Frockt who tried very hard to get funding for Blanchard in the Senate Budget. We know they will continue to work to do so – thank them for.
Senator Frockt (360) 786 - 7690 Sen. David [mailto:David.Frockt@leg.wa.gov; Senator Ranker (360) 786-7678 Sen. Kevin <Kevin.Ranker@leg.wa.gov
4) We will let you know next steps with other legislators as budget negotiations progress.
Other ways to help
1. Submit letters to the Skagit Valley Herald, Seattle Times, Everett Herald, Concrete Hearld, or Bellingham Herald, etc..
2. Need help finding a legislator you think should hear about Blanchard? Use this link to find them leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/. Then call them or send a postcard
3. Build the network. Expand that foundation ready to advocate for Blanchard throughout the legislature session (well into the spring of 2017). We love all the signs and fliers out there!! (Tip-Make sure they are also in Snohomish County and all over Skagit County as well as Whatcom )
4. Thank the DNR staff and Skagit County Commissioners, especially Commissioner Janicki- they have been supportive and working hard on this!
5. Skagit Land Trust and Conservation Northwest also developed Blanchard postcards. We can give the templates for these postcards to groups to write and send Contact Molly Doran firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Copy and Print in Mount Vernon (they have the cards on file)
TIPS ON MESSAGING
* Be brief and polite - a personal paragraph or two from a citizen makes good impact.
* Say why you personally want to see the 1600-acre forests on Blanchard Mountain protected forever.
* Tie it to the local economy if you can! If you live in a town nearby or work in a job that benefits from Blanchard or came to Skagit as a vistor and spent monye here - tell them your story. Saving Blanchard helps our local economy.
* Ask for full funding of the $10 million through the Trust Land Transfer program.
* Time is running out. A logging sale in the core forest is planned later in 2017 if funding isn't secured this legislative session.
* Remind them that it has been 10 years since the Blanchard Strategies Agreement was arrived at - and the legislature heralded it as a model solution to a complex problem. It is a truly collaborative agrement supported by local forestry industry, conservation group, citizens, recreationalists, businesses, Skagit County, BE School District etc
* Politeness and courtesy usually helps people read to the end of your message/point. Remember, this is a tough budget year for all
Some Q&A on Trust Land Transfer
What is Trust Land Transfer (TLT)? The legislatively funded Trust Land Transfer Program provides an opportunity to retain identified special trust lands in public ownership while maintaining and improving economic return to trust beneficiaries. This is a way the legislature set up to permanently protect high priority state trust lands that serve the public interest better for recreation or conservation but also remain consistent with the state’s trust obligations. The state protects the land while compensating the Common School Trust Fund for the value. The land is generally put into the Natural Area program (NRCA or NAP), to be managed by DNR for its natural and/or recreational value, and the legislature appropriates directly to the school trust an amount of money equal to the value of the timber. The legislature also appropriates to DNR an amount of money equal to the value of the underlying land, which DNR uses to buy “replacement land” to keep the trust whole for the long term. See information on DNR Trust Land Transfer Program below.
Trust Land Transfer, information
Do all state lands qualify for TLT? No, TLT can only be used for Common School Trust lands, which are those acres that resulted from the federal land grant at the time Washington was established. Most revenue from management of these lands goes into the Common School Construction Fund, which is apportioned according to a complex formula to school districts statewide.
Is Blanchard part of the Common School Trust? No. Blanchard, and many other areas, came into state management when private timber companies logged them almost a century ago, then lost ownership when they didn't pay taxes. These tax-delinquent clearcuts defaulted into county ownership. Counties didn’t have the means to reforest and manage these lands, so asked the state to do it on their behalf. These are often called forest board lands. Revenues from these lands go to the local county, which redistributes a portion to specified junior taxing districts like schools and hospitals.
So how can TLT be used to protect Blanchard? The DNR must first do a land exchange between the trusts. So part of the 1,600 Blanchard core will be traded for land of equal value that is both part of the Common School Trust and in Skagit County.
Why wasn’t TLT used from the beginning? The original stakeholder group that negotiated the Blanchard Strategies Agreement considered TLT but ran into two obstacles: 1) There was not nearly enough (if any) Common School Land in the Burlington-Edison School District (BESD) to make the trade and 2) There wasn’t enough Common School Land in Skagit County to undertake the 1600-acre agreement. However, DNR has recently said they have found a way to perform a series of swaps to make enough Common School Land available in Skagit County to undertake TLT for the remainder of the 1600 acres on Blanchard that still need funding. They cannot however make Common School Land for the swap available in the BESD.
How Does This Affect the Burlington Edison School District (BESD)? When Blanchard acres are traded out of the school district, those benefits then go to whichever district in Skagit County the acres are within. Although the Blanchard Agreement does allow for purchases of replacement land outside of the BESD, keeping the trusts and junior taxing districts whole is a priority of that agreement. Most of the revenues from Blanchard logging operations goes to county-wide institutions and are thus unaffected by the TLT swap proposed or can be replaced in other ways. The main exception is about 14% generated that goes to the BESD school construction/capital fund used to match bonds and levies passed in the district. Distribution percentages will vary between junior taxing districts and change from year to years so this percentage also varies.
How Much Is 14% in dollars? It is not easy to answer exactly because Blanchard is part of a bigger system. The BESD has 8006 acres of State Forest lands in their district (including Blanchard ), which have been generating about $90,000 of income for school construction on an annual basis recently. However that figure will fluctuate over time depending on the value and timing of harvests etc. The timber value for the 1600-acre core of Blanchard was appraised at $14.2 million. How much that forested core would generates a year in revenue (in theory) depends on the future forest rotaton period and the area's sustaianble harvest calculations. And, some of those acres (about 500 acres) have already been "replaced". Some of those replacement lands are in the BESD (thus contributing to the BESD construction fund) and some are elsewhere in Skagit County (thus contributing to another school district's construction fund).
Is there a way to keep the BESD whole? Maybe. We will work with DNR, legislators and Skagit County to find a way to ensure BESD receives about what it would if the swap could involve lands in the district. By agreement of the Blanchard stakeholders on April 10, 2017, DNR will not execute the inter-trust land exchange until we have resolved that situation to the group’s satisfaction. So even if the legislature fully funds the Blanchard TLT, as contained presently only the House version of the Capital Budget Bill (which now needs to be reconciled with the Senate version, which lacks Blanchard funds), Blanchard will still not be fully secured until spring of 2018 at the earliest. Though DNR will not log in the meantime.
Why does the bill contain $10M, when only $7.7M is owed? Because TLT requires that the land be replaced in order to keep the trust whole for the long term. When we were seeking $7.7. million we were buying the timber rights only. So the additional $2.3M is for the DNR to buy additional (i.e., replacement) land for the Common School Trust.
Do the Blanchard stakeholders support the TLT approach for Blanchard? Yes. This is more complicated and therefore not ideal, but per an April 10 agreement, the stakeholders feel they have found a way to accomplish the terms of the 2007 agreement through TLT, and therefore support this approach.
Conservation Northwest has excllent web content, including this legislative action form (enabling people to email both their own legislators, the budget chairs, and the Gov) and a printable flier.
Letters to the Editor remain important, here’s guidance.
Blanchard Strategies Background
Click on the articles below to read about a TLT land exchange proposed by Representative Morris and others to protect Blanchard Mountain through Trust Land Transfer.
Bellingham Herald - Push continues to save 1,600 acres on Blanchard Mountain from logging
Skagit Valley Herald - Legislators have new plan to save Blanchard forest
Speak Up, Speak Out Radio did an interview with Commissioner Janicki and members of the Blanchard Strategies Group (Molly Doran and Mitch Friedman) in mid January 2017. This interview has excellent background information. Look for the title, "IS LOGGING THE FUTURE OF BLANCHARD FOREST'S CORE? - January 18, 2017"
Radio Interview On Blanchard Situation
Senator Bailey (R)
On Senate Ways and Means Committee
Beth Doglio (D)
House Budget Vice Chair
317 John L. O'Brien Building, PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504 (360) 786-7992
Senator Jim Honeyford (R)
Ways and Means, Chair for Capital Budget
112 Irv Newhouse Building
PO Box 40415
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786 - 7684
Ask him to support the Trust Land Transfer Solution. This solution is good for the economy and conservation and recreation as it saves the core of Blanhad; it is good for schools as it preserves funding, and it keeps Skagit as a county with working forests lands.
Senator David Frockt (D)
Ways and Means, Assistant Ranking Minority Member
227 John A. Cherberg Building
PO Box 40446
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786 – 7690
(Thank him for his support of funding the Blanchard Agreement)
Jeff Morris (D – 40th)
436A Legislative Building, PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504 (360) 786-7970 (We appreciate his support of the Agreement, Rep Morris has really helped to get Blanchard Funding in the house budget.
Senator Pearson (R)
Staff member to call is Cameron Bailey
Thank him for his past support and let him know you want to see that support for Blanchard in the reconciled budgets
Kevin Ranker (D-40th) (Thank him for his support of the Blanchard Agreement and all his work in trying to get it funded this year)
Ranking Minority Member
215 John A. Cherberg Building, PO Box 40440, Olympia, WA 98504 (360) 786-7678
Rep Steve Tharinger (D)
Capital Budget, Chair
314 John L. O'Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786 - 7904
Staff email is: Leanne.Horn@leg.wa.gov
** Note- The Blanchard Strategies Group hosted Rep. Tharinger on Blanchard Mountain in September of 2017. He is very supportive and put the $10M in the House budget for Blanchard. Thank him!
Rep. Norma Smith
(360) 786-7884 | email@example.com
Supportive of funding Blanchard
Always good to keep Governor Jay Inslee in the loop
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Call - 360-902-4111
Fax - 360-753-4110
Hilary Franz - Commissioner-elect of Public Lands
Has been supportive of Blanchard funding from the get-go
Skagit County Commissioners
1800 Continental Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Very helpful in trying to find a solution that meets all needs. They support funding Blanchard