Participate in our our preference poll of the Washington State Public Lands Commissioner race.
Working Forests Action Network

In the next few weeks, millions of Washingtonians will have their first chance to select a new Washington State Public Lands Commissioner, the chief of the Department of Natural Resources.

The Department of Natural Resources is the largest land manager in the state, generating revenue for school construction from its 5.6 million acres of forest, farm land and aquatic lands. The agency is also the largest firefighting organization in the state and manages about 1,800 employees.
Several candidates are running to run this important department.  Who do you think would be best for the job?  Maybe you've already chosen your preferred candidate in the August primary right ahead and if so you can click here or the button down the page to participate in our straw poll of the race. 

We don’t endorse candidates, but we can endorse values that Washingtonians would be well-advised to seek in the person they choose to be the next state public lands commissioner. 

  • Our state needs a balancer, someone able to bring many points of view into discussions about the DNR’s work and who won’t come into the office with a narrow and predefined agenda. 
  • We need a leader, a person who can diagnose problems, imagine solutions and most importantly arm others with what they need to make those solutions real and take some ownership over the outcome.
  • And perhaps most importantly we need a lands commissioner of unswerving accountability, one who will recognize the necessity to preserving and fulfilling hard-won agreements that are responsible for producing so much environmental and economic good for Washington.

Finding a person with these traits is important because there’s a critical relationship between the DNR, working forests and things we call care about like salmon runs, sustainably grown timber and… schools.  The Seattle Times framed the stakes well earlier this year, writing:

There’s always need for improvement and change. But lands commissioner is not a job for an extremist hoping to clear-cut hard-fought policy agreements, including forest-protection rules that are among the strictest in the nation. …
The job requires a pragmatic manager who respects DNR’s diverse constituencies, mediates between them and balances competing views on the best use of state lands.

Above all, the commissioner must continue to manage trust lands for the benefit of schools, universities and local governments. …

Trust land was preserved when the state was created in 1889. Land in every county was set aside to financially support K-12 schools, and additional land was provided to support other public institutions.
Under this program, enshrined in the state Constitution, 3 million acres continue to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Since 1970, they have generated $8 billion for school construction, universities and county governments.

Clearly, trees will continue to grow and be harvested in Washington to provide lumber, paper and other products. The trust program is sustainable, environmentally sensitive and lucrative. Really, it’s like having a rich uncle who sends checks every year, helping to make ends meet.
We really do need a leader who understands that managing the public lands requires a balanced hand and mind.  We hope that you find the person to vote for who possesses those important traits. 

Or maybe you’ve already found them -- don't forget to participate in our preference poll.

Until next time,

Your Friends in Working Forests

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