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Working Forests Action Network

Friend -

There's something important that many Washingtonians don't know - working forests in Washington helps provide dependable financial support for public education and local counties.
 
It's a relationship that goes back to statehood, over a hundred years ago and managing it is the responsibility of one elected official - the Washington State Public Lands Commissioner.
 
This November, we'll choose the next lands commissioner to manage millions of acres of state trust lands, 2.1 million acres of which is forested.  These forestlands aren't our federal or state parks - they are lands managed expressly to generate positive revenue, primarily to benefit public K-12 schools.  And because forested state trust lands are only 12% of the total forestland across Washington, it's truly a case of doing a lot with a little.
 
Early this year, the Seattle Times urged voters to consider the ramifications of the lands commissioner race on our system for funding education, writing:

AN unsung success of Washington state government is its careful management of trust lands across the state.
 
For more than a century, state forests, farmland and waters have quietly and consistently generated billions of dollars to fund schools and other essential services.
 
Managing these lands — while protecting the environment and regulating logging — is the primary responsibility of the state Department of Natural Resources’ boss, the commissioner of public lands.
The two candidates left in the lands commissioner race - retired Navy commander Steve McLaughlin and litigation attorney Hilary Franz - have very different views about the legal requirement the state has to generate income from its state trust lands.
 
According to Lens News, McLaughlin wants to balance conservation with revenue for schools:
That means fulfilling DNR’s legal mandate to generate revenue from state trust land but also addressing environmental concerns, [McLaughlin] said. McLaughlin said his work as a political military advisor in Bosnia in the mid-1990s under General Wesley Clarke shows he can foster cooperation.
 
“By talking and working together to come up with intelligent, science-based solutions, we can do a much better job at managing our environment,” he said.
Franz wants to stop using lands-based financing as part of how we fund schools across Washington:
Franz believes the state should end the legal mandate requiring state forests generate an income. In a candidate questionnaire response… [Franz] favored replacing state logging revenue to fund school construction with alternative sources such as an increase in business and occupation taxes, or “redirection” of corporate tax incentives to schools.
Many voters remain undecided about the lands commissioner race.  Maybe that's you, too.  With K-12 funding dominating the state political debate, their positions may just help you to make up your mind.

-Your Friends in Washington's Working Forests
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