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Forest Lands in Washington Counties


This page provides an overview and links to information about federal lands and state trust lands in Washington counties. Much of the background material comes from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. A companion page, County Timber Revenues - Payments and Taxes, provides information on payments received from the federal government for payment in-lieu of taxes and the state's trust land revenue.

As an advocate for the 29 timber counties, the Washington State Association of Counties Timber Counties Program provides information to county decision makers, and serves as liaison between the counties, the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Federal Forest Lands in Washington

Washington DNR Trust Lands

The forested state trust lands are managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for specific beneficiaries. The beneficiaries, and some aspects of how the lands are managed, vary according to the origin of the trusts. Most of the forested state trust lands that DNR manages are Federal Grant Lands or State Forest Lands. The Board of Natural Resources sets policies to guide how the DNR manages the state’s lands and resources. For additional background on Washington Trust Lands see the description of State Trust Lands the in Section 1 of Policy for Sustainable Forests, Department of Natural Resources, 2006

Washington's Federal Grant Forest Trust Lands

Upon statehood, the federal government gave Washington three million acres of trust lands. Provisions governing state trust lands appear in article 16 of the state constitution. The state has maintained the trust's three million acres, of which 1.5 million are forest lands. Common School trust - supports the construction of public kindergarten through twelfth-grade public schools statewide; Agricultural School trust - supports construction at Washington State University; Charitable, Educational, Penal and Reformatory Institutions (CEP&RI) trust - supports establishment and maintenance of institutions managed by the Washington State Department of Corrections and Department of Social and Health Services; University trust - supports construction at the University of Washington (includes University-original trust lands, which were originally granted by Congress, and University-transfer trust lands, which were transferred by the Legislature from the Charitable, Educational, Penal and Reformatory Institutions trust to provide additional support for the university); Normal School trust - supports construction at four universities (Western Washington University, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and The Evergreen State College); Scientific School trust - supports construction at Washington State University; and Capitol Building trust - supports the construction of state office buildings at the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

State Forest Transfer Trust Lands

Twenty-one counties acquired lands through tax foreclosures in the 1920s and 1930s. The properties were transferred to the state for management. The lands ultimately were deeded to the state and placed in trust status. In exchange for the deed transfer, the county and junior taxing districts in which the land is located are given a majority of the revenue from timber sales and other revenue-producing activities on these lands. A Forest Board was created in 1923 to manage these properties, and was consolidated into the Natural Resources Board in 1957. The Forest Trust Board Counties that contain state forest lands acquired or transferred are represented on the board. In addition to the original state forest transfer lands are the state forest purchase lands. These have been acquired by gift or purchase. In 2006 the state forest transfer trust lands were listed as 546,000 acres and the state forest purchase lands constituted 80,000 acres.

Management of Forest Trust Lands

Local Government Forest Management

Forest Management References

Last Modified: June 23, 2017