A small portion of state trust lands in agricultural production are located in Western Washington. The majority of these lands are in Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and Skagit counties. The lands represent a diverse mix of grazing, habitat, and agricultural crop production uses—including grass, corn, hay, grain, raspberries, strawberries, potatoes, Christmas trees, and hybrid poplar.
In a move to improve the effectiveness of managing these lands, DNR consolidated management (hubbing), whereby one dedicated staff manages these assets across all the four of DNR’s Westside Regions. The approach has vastly improved management consistency, crop diversification, resource protection measures, and income.
Over the past decades, DNR traded a portion of the agricultural lands portfolio for private timber lands as part of the agency goal to block-up our trust forest holdings for more effective management. In addition, many trust holdings in agriculture in Whatcom County were sold at public auction. The funding went in to a replacement property account to purchase replacement properties at a later time—to keep the trusts ‘whole’.
As the department divested of the Westside agricultural portfolio over time, it continued the hubbing approach of having one dedicated staff position manage these diverse holdings along with those trust lands in commercial use, again enhancing management consistency, resource protection, and profitability for the trust beneficiaries.
Current agency-wide portfolio planning is considering the long-term direction of our Western Washington agricultural lands portfolio.