In the southeast corner of Washington State lies the Dayton Unit of DNR’s Snake River District. The Dayton Unit includes 52,000 acres of state trust land in Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Walla Walla Counties managed to benefit the various trust beneficiaries. These lands have a wide variety of uses, including: Dryland, Irrigated, Grazing, Windpower, Vineyard, Orchard production, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation of Wildlife Habitat. In 2011 leases for these lands generated a record income of over $1 million for the trusts.
With the favorable growing conditions for dryland wheat in 2011, about 350,000 bushels of wheat were produced. Multiple record yields included 3 leases that averaged more than 100 bushels per acre, and several others in the 90 bushel range. Almost 75 percent of the dryland leases in this unit are either direct seeded or minimum tillage (2-pass). There are 9,000 acres in Dryland Agriculture and another 2,500 acres of land enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program.
It is looking like 2012 will be another great year.
In 2004, DNR’s first Wind Power lease went into production in Walla Walla County with twelve 0.66 Megawatt Generators. Today in the Dayton Unit there are 28 turbines producing electricity with a rated capacity of 37.92 Megawatts. Last year a little more than 95,000 megawatts of wind energy were produced on trust land.
The irrigated agriculture leases are serviced by river pump stations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and ground water wells. The majority of these irrigated 2,400 acres in the Dayton Unit are under pivot irrigation with the remainder under either hand lines or drip irrigation.
Other DNR programs ‘in the corner’
As is true across the state, in addition to managing state trust lands, DNR also provides Wildland Fire Protection and Forest Practice Regulations such as for the forested state and private land surrounding the Umatilla National Forest in the four counties. The bedlands and shorelands of the Grande Ronde, Snake, and Columbia Rivers—and all the structures in the water, and in the air space above—are managed by the Aquatics Program. DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Program assists private landowners to plan how to achieve goals for their forests; and DNR also regulates the surface mining practices and site restoration for the state.
For more information regarding these programs contact our Ellensburg office.
Ryan Cloud, Dayton Unit Land Manager