DNR Offering 3,000-acre Agricultural Lease in Paterson’s Horse Heaven Hills

Paterson/Horse Heaven Hills

DNR is offering a long-term lease on 3,000 acres of prime agricultural land within Horse Heaven Hills AVA with secured water permits and senior water rights in-hand. Photo: DNR

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering for lease approximately 3,000 acres of agricultural land in the Paterson-Horse Heaven Hills region. All bids are due by 1 p.m., April 6, 2017. Learn more

This bid opportunity is unique for a several reasons: its large size, an atypical lease structure and the ability to tap into 3.9 acre feet of non-interruptible Columbia River water per acre.

This structure of this lease will differ from our standard agricultural leases. Most notably, we’re looking to the bid winner to construct the supply system needed to deliver water to the land. To that end, the agency will allow proposals with rental terms designed to reimburse against the winning bidder’s investment – such as a long-term lease of up to 35 years and reduced lease rates.

locationmapThe agency will select its future lessee based on a range of criteria, including the applicant’s financial capabilities and ability to perfect DNR’s water rights. Environmental considerations also will factor in, such as whether the applicant intends to grow organic crops or preserve areas of shrub-steppe as wildlife habitat.

“We know this is not a typical agricultural land lease, but we also know that access to prime irrigated farmland is valuable. We want applicants to be creative and propose what can work for them, and us,” says DNR Southeast Region Manager Todd Welker. “We’ve done a lot of work upfront. We think this approach will preserve a valuable water right, generate revenue for public beneficiaries and pencil out for someone.”

To reduce risk, DNR has already negotiated needed agreements and right-of-ways for the water supply system. We’re also providing water pipeline and pump station engineering drawings, electrical drawings and a project cost estimate, which rings in at $11 million.

Want to find out more? Check out www.Paterson2017.com, which has overhead drone footage of the available farmland, associated documents and parcel temperature data. You’ll also be able to sign up to get email updates about this unique lease offering.

If you are interested in a tour of the parcels, email Rick Roeder or Randy Niessner, or visit www.paterson2017.com

March Offerings: Irrigated Agriculture and Grazing Leases

Grazing Lease No. 10-094032 — March 8, 2017

This 10 year-lease, which will be offered at sealed-bid public auction, includes 120 acres in Spokane County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 10:00 a.m. on March 8, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Northeast Region Office, 225 S. Silke Road, Colville, Wash., 99114. Lease documents:

For more information, contact Shawn Soliday or Suzanne Thome at 509-624-7474.

Temporary Grazing Permit No. 11-095122 — March 8, 2017

This five-year permit, which will be offered at sealed-bid public auction, includes 9,934 acres in Okanogan County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 11:00 a.m. on March 8, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Northeast Region Office, 225 S. Silke Road, Colville, Wash., 99114. Lease documents:

For more information, contact Brian Derting or Suzanne Thome at 509-624-7474.

Irrigated Ag Lease No. 12-092579 — March 9, 2017

This ten-year lease, which will be offered at sealed-bid public auction, includes 255 irrigated agriculture acres in Adams County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 3:30 p.m. on March 9, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Southeast Region Office, 713 Bowers Road, Ellensburg, Wash., 98926. Lease documents:

For more information, contact Mark Bohnet at 509-531-7418, or Kathleen Beach at 509-925-0912.

April Offerings: Irrigated Leases in Grant and Franklin Counties

Irrigated Ag Lease No. 12-A79766 — April 11, 2017

This lease will be offered at sealed-bid public auction with the following lease options: a ten-year term for irrigated row crops, or a 25-year term for orchard or vineyards crops. The lease is for 155.6 irrigable acres in Grant County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 2:00 p.m. on April 11, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Southeast Region Office, 713 Bowers Road, Ellensburg, WA 98926. See lease documents:

For more information, contact Tim Kopf at 509-528-2894, or Kathleen Beach at 509-925-0912. 

Irrigated Ag Lease No. 12-A79611 — April 11, 2017

This ten-year lease, which will be offered at a sealed-bid public auction, includes 520 irrigated agriculture acres in Franklin County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 2:30 p.m. on April 11, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Southeast Region Office, 713 Bowers Road, Ellensburg, WA 98926. See lease documents:

For more information, contact Ryan Cloud at 509-528-6196, or Kathleen Beach at 509-925-0912. 

Irrigated Ag Lease No. 12-A79612 — April 11, 2017

This ten-year lease, which will be offered at a sealed-bid public auction, includes 439.7 irrigated agriculture acres in Franklin County.

Sealed bids must be received no later than 3:00 p.m. on April 11, 2017, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Southeast Region Office, 713 Bowers Road, Ellensburg, WA 98926. See lease documents:

For more information, contact Ryan Cloud at 509-528-6196, or Kathleen Beach at 509-925-0912.

Land Manager Shawn Soliday Honored with Commissioner’s Award for Public Service

Shawn Soliday

Shawn Soliday, one of four DNR employees honored this year for their public service efforts

Shawn Soliday is one of four DNR Northeast Region staff who received the Commissioner’s Award for Public Service this year. The awards are presented annually by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark to recognize DNR employees for outstanding job performance. Shawn and his colleagues were honored for always answering the call to fulfill DNR’s wildfire mission. In the nomination submitted by a DNR Northeast Region assistant manager, the four deserved special recognition for “taking initiative and acting decisively and competently on several adverse and demanding Type 3 wildfires last year.”

Shawn wears two hats at DNR, dividing his time between the leasing program and fire control, where he serves as a Type 3 Fire Team Incident Commander, instructor, and in a number of other fire positions for the region which oversees DNR activities in Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens counties and the northern half of Lincoln County. He’s worked at DNR since his teens, when he was first hired as a seasonal firefighter. This year will be his 35th fire season. Over the years, Shawn has also worked as a forester and rangeland manager, and for the last 15 years, as an agricultural and grazing land manager.

“I’m that thing known as Institutional Knowledge,” he says with a laugh.

Soliday says his two favorite parts of the job are working with his DNR colleagues, and working with farmers and ranchers.

“I have some great lessees,” Shawn says. “They are good managers willing to do what it takes to care for the bunch grass community.”

He said DNR and ranchers share the goal of keeping rangelands healthy and productive. Experts and ranchers alike know that sustainable management of grazing land is both an art and a science.

Shawn credits the lessees for using adaptive management to find the right duration and intensity of grazing, which has resulted in highly productive, sustainable range lands. Shawn is especially sensitive to the fact that many of the operators leasing state trust parcels know the land far better than he does.

“I respect their skills and history with the land when explaining the science of resource management,” he says.

It’s been a tough few years in the region. At the same time that Northeast Region experienced back-to-back record fire seasons, Shawn has taken on the management of additional leases.

“It’s overwhelming sometimes,” he notes, adding that he appreciates the support and friendships with other DNR staff, whom he refers to as his DNR brothers and sisters.

“The best part of my job is my work family and the relationships we’ve built,” Shawn says.

Despite the challenges, Shawn Soliday approaches both fire control and land management duties with the same positive attitude, diligence, and dedication. Thanks for all you do Shawn!

By Kathleen Beach, Natural Resources Specialist, Agriculture Administration Unit, DNR Southeast Region

Cropping Systems Field Day in Douglas County

Rochelle Wickwire, a Washington State Department of Natural Resource (DNR) summer intern, and I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Cropping Systems Field Day in Douglas County on May 24. This field day was sponsored by Washington State University, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Central Washington Grain Growers. This is the second year that I’ve attended the tour and it was exciting to see what our lessees are participating in and the variety of farm practices being implemented.

Tom Poole

The 2016 Cropping Systems Field Day began with a stop at the farm of Tom Poole. Photo: Cindy Preston/DNR.

The first stop of the day was at Tom Poole’s farm north of Mansfield. Mr. Poole presented the topic of winter canola as a rotation crop. Douglas County producers are expanding their planting of canola as a rotational crop. He also discussed sunflowers and how they fit as a rotational oilseed crop for the Douglas County area. The use of canola as a cover crop is also increasing on state lands along with experiments using different cover crops planted with direct seed methods.

Douglas Poole

Douglas Poole describes cover crops used on his ranch.

At the next stop Douglas Poole discussed the topic of spring forage triticale and 2015 and 2016 cover crop endeavors on his ranch. Multiple farmers in Douglas, Lincoln and Okanogan counties have participated in cover crop trials with Leslie Michel of the Okanogan Conservation District.

Ian Burke, WSU associate professor

Ian Burke, a WSU associate professor, describes weed management. Photo Cindy Preston/DNR.

After lunch the group looked at some winter peas at a site north of Waterville and heard Howard Nelson from Central Washington Grain Growers discuss what he likes about this crop.

At the last stop of the day, Dr. Ian Burke presented the topic of chem-fallow and weed management. The field day also included a presentation and discussion about upcoming herbicide trials planned for the area.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these field days you will find that it is educational and well worth your time.

by Cindy Preston, Natural Resources Specialist, Agriculture Leasing Unit, DNR Southeast Region