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

Grazing Lease Auction Dates Set

Grazing land available to lease in Northeast Washington. Watch for these auctions dates:

April 19, 2016

Grazing Lease No. 10-090715 is a ten-year lease offered at sealed bid public auction which contains 160 acres in Ferry County. Sealed bids must be received no later than 10:00 a.m. on April 19, 2016, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Northeast Region Office, 225 S. Silke Rd., Colville, WA 99114. View the bid packet. For more information, contact Brian Derting or Tim Gallagher at (509) 684-7474.

May 5, 2016

Grazing Lease No. 10-089633 is a ten-year lease offered at sealed bid public auction which contains 1,470.92 acres in Ferry County. Sealed bids must be received no later than 10 a.m. on May 5, 2016, at which time they will be opened at DNR’s Northeast Region Office: 225 S. Silke Rd., Colville, WA 99114. View the bid packet. For more information, contact Brian Derting at or Tim Gallagher at (509) 684-7474.

Central Washington University Students Dig into Agricultural Marketing for State Trust Lands

DNR’s Agriculture and Water Program recently partnered with the Central Washington University (CWU) College of Business Department of Management and Marketing to offer senior marketing students the opportunity to focus research on state trust agriculture lands as part of their senior capstone coursework. Under the guidance of Jeff Stinson, Ph.D., CWU students Rachael Wescott and Patrick Croghan explored their research questions through an internship with DNR’s Agriculture Program. Here’s what they thought of their experiences with us.

My Experience as an Intern

While researching the scope and scale of the wine industry in Washington state I was impressed with production volume, a continuous upward trend of total wineries in the state, and how the industry was able to grow even during the recession of 2008. These items were particularly motivating from a strictly business standpoint, but also illustrate how the state economy and thousands of workers now depend on the wine industry for income.

grapes on vie

Photo provided by Patrick Croghan.

Upon being bestowed with the honor of joining the DNR’s Southeast Region in an internship capacity I was able to execute the old adage that “seeing is believing”. Resident agriculture experts whisked me around the southeastern corner of the state to view hundreds if not thousands of acres under vine. The scope and scale was far beyond what pictures and web research could ever truly illustrate. In a sense this was disappointing to me. Keeping up with the Jones’ is the model for most to thrive in a DNR vineyard lease situation. The truth in this requires only a quick look at how much of the local wine industry is concentrated in the top five businesses. While the big five produce more than a million cases per year, the rest of the industry is at 380,000 or less per year. My dreams of a collective of smaller wineries sharing resources to acquire large vineyard properties on lease truly is a challenge in the first place and most wineries in that situation don’t even want that type of growth according to my research. Large wine grape growers who then sell their product are much easier to deal with for the little guy (or girl) looking to expand.

Much of my romance with the wine industry was born from the commonalities shared with the craft beer industry from which much of my previous experience lays. I have always been enamored with the idea that more competition is better for business. While Starbucks and Walmart have business models driven by pushing the competition out, the craft beer and wine industry have geographic needs that demand collaboration. Walla Walla once was an outpost where travelers would stop only \to use the restroom and grab some sweet onions. One or two wineries changed that somewhat, but now as a mecca for superior wine — produced in state with 140 wineries, tasting rooms, and wine bars — Walla Walla is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts. It’s also become a favorite destination weddings and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well as wine tours. Much of this is because of the large spectrum of premium choices in close proximity, not because a single elite winery scored a certain amount of points in Wine Spectator magazine. This development mirrors the rapid expansion of breweries in North Seattle neighborhoods that are adapting quickly to the local tech industry’s continued hiring of new workers who seem to have an insatiable thirst for craft beer.

wine cellar

Photo provided by Patrick Croghan.

What rekindled my romance for the industry is an interview over the phone with a California winemaker. His group has made property acquisitions to create more opportunities, including holdings in the popular Napa Valley as well as acreage in several developing nations. Many winemakers chose not to reply to my appeal for assistance with my student research. While many things may contribute to this non-response, the main hurdle is fear. The small wineries and other groups that did respond to my survey questions about growth expressed apprehension and a desire for “outs” or protection.

Californians and Oregonians from the Willamette Valley also “bucked” at the chance to diversify, often stating how estate-specific they were. In most industries the desire to stand still will eat you alive but there is something to be said for stability. Overly aggressive expansion is clearly filled with pitfalls as well. None the less while many in the wine industry make it big by selling to large groups, it is the smaller groups that see no borders that provide win-win opportunities for DNR leases. Borderless wine grape growers from California also are improving their bottom lines and may be the type of companies with which DNR could develop favorable relationships.

by Patrick J. Croghan, Central Washington University Class of 2016

Digital Marketing for DNR’s Public Land Auctions

As a marketing student at Central Washington University, my internship with Washington Department of Natural Resources has involved researching different marketing methods that would bring more potential lessees to DNR’s Public Land Leasing Auctions. We are particularly interested in promoting the lease auctions to a larger cross section of agriculture businesses. We are researching how best to communicate with these businesses and crea

Rachael Wescott

Rachael Wescott, a CWU student who interned in the DNR Agriculture Lands Program.

te a valuable partnership with them.

In order to expose as many potential lessees to our land as possible we are looking into the opportunity of posting the land auctions on popular farmland leasing websites in order to better increase exposure. I have also been researching different ways that farmers use DNR’s social media, newsletters, and website. This research then goes into how we can change DNR’s use of social media, newsletters and website to most benefit DNR’s clients, our tenants, as you consider participating in the land auctions.

All in all, we want to create valuable communication with our potential lessees and make the process of learning about the land auctions as simple as possible. By streamlining all of our means of communication and creating a reliable presence throughout all of these platforms, we will be able to target our ideal customer more efficiently and effectively.

by Rachael Wescott, DNR Southeast Region Student Marketing Intern

Our Thanks to You, Our Lessees

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to express a warm thank you to all the individuals and entities who lease State agricultural lands from the department. Our contractual relationships survive and endure the term of our leases and beyond in many cases.

As each lease approaches its expiration we are required to make a decision: shall we continue leasing with the existing lessee through a process called “Negotiation,” or would the trust benefit more by allowing the lease to go to public auction, where any qualified bidder would have an opportunity to obtain the lease from DNR.

As the agricultural economy remains resilient, more individuals and entities are expressing an interest in leasing State agricultural trust lands. In response, DNR is looking at putting more leases up for public auction. These leases would include irrigated lands, dryland crop lands, and grazing lands. Recently, we’ve held successful auctions in all of these categories, generating additional revenues through bonus bids and higher rates per acre than historically thought possible.

To help meet the demand for more information about leasing State agricultural lands, DNR has rolled out a new email service for those who want to learn about the State land leases coming up for public auction. We envision that this service will enable DNR to more efficiently notify more people about upcoming public auctions. In June, we sent our first email to a large group individuals and entities who had previously expressed interest in being notified of these upcoming opportunities. If you received one of these emails but do not want to receive future e-mails, our email system makes it easy to opt out of future notifications. If you are interested in state trust land leasing opportunities but did not receive this notification in June, or you want to change your email address or other contact information in our database, simply click this link and follow the sign-up instructions.

Again, thank you for choosing to do business with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

By Chad Unland, DNR Natural Resource Specialist, Southeast Region, chad.unland@dnr.wa.gov