Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, representing Washington's 3rd Congressional District, recently wrote to U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to request federal government intervention in the management of our state trust lands by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
As a member of the Conservation Committee of the Black Hills Audubon Society, whose membership area includes Lewis and Thurston counties (and therefore members of Rep. Herrera Beutler’s district), I am concerned that this letter ignores the extraordinary work the DNR has undertaken.
The DNR is committed to the trust-land beneficiaries — our public schools and universities, hospitals, libraries, prisons, roads, and county services — funded partly by state timber sales. The DNR has been carefully considering the economic impacts of conservation measures for the endangered marbled murrelet and has proposed ways to increase revenue for heavily impacted counties.
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz is convening a group of representatives from local governments, trust beneficiaries, the timber industry, and conservationists to find innovative ways to mitigate economic impacts on our rural communities and create more opportunities to protect endangered species on our state lands.
I would suggest that Rep. Herrera Beutler promote a collaborative rather than adversarial relationship with the DNR by seeking additional federal funding for counties burdened by the costs of public safety and criminal justice, health and human services, law enforcement, and the conservation of endangered species within their boundaries.
Audubon Society members in the 3rd Congressional District don’t just care about birds. We care for our communities, the environment, and endangered species’ survival.