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.

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.

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

The BAER Team Experience after the Carlton Complex Fire

rill erosion

On a slope with rill erosion, the author poses with soil shovel in hand ready to work in the dirt.

Following the devastating Carlton Complex Fire in the summer of 2014, I was surprised and then very honored to be asked to participate in the first-ever multi-jurisdiction assessment team with the United States Forest Service (USFS) Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team.

Since I was born and raised in Okanogan County it meant a lot to me to be part of the team assessing the impacts of the fire. I was amazed by the magnitude of devastation and feel empathy for folks who suffered losses. I reflected on my heritage as I walked over the scorched lands on the same ground where my great-grandfather once traveled as a stagecoach driver from Pateros through Carlton onto Twisp and Winthrop.

The formation of the multi-jurisdiction assessment team is the result of a request by the Okanogan Conservation District to Governor Inslee. The team was assigned to conduct a rapid assessment of the fire area to determine whether the after-effects of the fire will pose a threat to life or property or will cause unacceptable degradation of natural or cultural resources.

After President Obama signed the Disaster Declaration on August 11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began coordinating with the Okanogan Conservation District and USFS to staff this team to complete an assessment on public and private lands.

The BAER team came together in a short amount of time and members included specialists in soils, hydrology and weather, engineering, fisheries, wildlife, range, cultural resources and GIS. The team represented national, state, local agencies and organizations from Washington state and other parts of the west.

sever head cut caused by erosion

The author stands on a Forest Service road looking at a severe head cut caused by erosion in the wake of the Carlton Complex Fire.

The team’s task was to collect and compile data and provide recommendations for emergency stabilization and long-term restoration to minimize impacts on private property and lands managed by Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service.

This two-week assignment consisted of long and tiring days, a high learning curve, great networking with professional experts, and an opportunity to employ adaptable management. It was awe-inspiring and humbling to experience the power and yet the forgiveness of nature.

The first day consisted of meeting team members, outlining our goals for threats and hazards, emergency rehabilitation treatments, and safety protocols. The next five days were set in the field performing transects and collecting data and validating the intensity of the fire to produce a final burn soil severity map. Actually getting to work in the dirt! The following week consisted of compiling and organizing the information for writing the BAER report. At the time it seemed daunting and an almost overwhelming task under a deadline.

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) grove

A quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) grove regenerates following rainfall. Photo: Bill Oaks/DNR

Burned Area Reflectance Classification (BARC) and aerial reconnaissance data were combined to develop a preliminary “High”, “Moderate”, and “Low” fire intensity map for the Carlton Complex Fire. BARC imagery depicts the “intensity” or above-ground fire effects for making interpretations of fire impacts on pre-fire vegetation, soil and hydrologic conditions.

I understand now and have been enlightened that there is a difference between fire intensity and severity, learning that fire intensity and soil burn severity are often incorrectly used synonymously.

“Fire intensity relates to the above-ground fire effects generally identified through visual observations of changes in the overstory vegetation and ground fuels (type, amount, arrangement, and moisture content). Soil burn severity is the effect of fire at and below the ground surface, specifically how the fire changes the physical and chemical composition of the soils. While fire intensity is not primarily a reflection of wildfire effects on soils, observed changes from pre- to post-fire vegetation are used as indicators to estimate soil burn severity as a function of watershed response. Fire severity that detrimentally impacts soil conditions leads to further degradation of soil productivity and soil-hydrologic function

Source: Sawtooth National Forest, BAER, Cave Canyon Fire, Soil Resource Assessment, August 26, 2012)

With the loss of both overhead canopy and ground cover, severely burned soils lose their ability to protect the surface and absorb precipitation properly.

 bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata),

Skeletons of bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), an important plant for wildlife and for post-wildfire restoration throughout the West. Photo Bill Oakes/DNR

The results of the assessment helped to identify the severity of the fire and potential post-fire effects to critical values such as human life and safety, property (roads, buildings, municipal, domestic and agricultural water systems, etc.), degradation of natural resources (soil productivity and hydrologic function), habitat for federally listed species, cultural and heritage resources within or in close proximity to burned lands. Hazards that put values at risk include hillslope erosion, flooding, debris flows, and establishment of invasive or noxious plant species. One important outcome was to prioritize locations for aerial seeding treatment.

Grasses growing with some Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) regeneration. Photo: Bob Oakes/DNR

Grasses growing with some bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) regeneration. Photo: Bill Oakes/DNR

It is very difficult to capture the entire process in this article of creating the BAER report and there is much more to explain. It is a complex and interrelated progression that pulled together efficiently and effectively to produce a high quality product. Hopefully, we can take this experience and turn it into positive outcome and provide vision for the future; by having a team in place ready to hit-the-ground-running if anything closely resembles this unfortunate natural disaster occurs again.

I am grateful for this unique opportunity and learned a lot from associated colleagues of the project and ensuing comradery. Their dedication, cooperation and professionalism were inspiring and I am proud to have participated in this first ever inter-agency BAER team. Hopefully, I was able to contribute in small way something positive to the unfortunate people involved in this tragedy, DNR, and the environment.

I fought fires early in my career with both DNR and the USFS but the Carlton Complex was unlike anything I had ever seen. Although some areas looked like the proverbial “bomb struck it”, being able to actually get out in the “dirt” was an exciting adventure. To sum up my interesting experience, it reaffirmed my belief that just like the laws of conservation of energy and matter, the law of life can change form but cannot be extinguished!

Wishing everyone a healthy, productive and prosperous year to come. Happy trails,

Bill Oakes, Agricultural Stewardship, Monitoring and Compliance Specialist, DNR Product Sales & Leasing Division

Agriculture Program Revenues Increase in Fiscal Year 2014

Spud_Harvest2The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) saw a modest increase of 3.4 percent in its in the Agriculture and Water Program revenue for fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014) compared to the previous year. Income increased in most of the categories DNR tracks for trust lands in agriculture and grazing production: dryland, irrigated, orchard/vineyard, and grazing leases and range permits.

Several factors contributed to the revenue increase.

  • Lessees continue to work with DNR land managers to implement best-management and sustainable land management practices;
  • Commodity prices were generally favorable;
  • Sufficient rainfall in the dryland regions produced higher yields per acre and higher protein percentages; and
  • DNR continues to increase its marketing efforts for leases going to public auction.

Revenue from 85 percent of the state trust lands in agriculture and grazing production are Common School trust lands, which help build K-12 public schools statewide.

Fiscal Year 2014 Results for Agriculture Leasing and Grazing Permits

Lease Type Number of Leases Acres FY 2014 Revenue Income Per Acre
Dryland 602 127,971 $6,393,612 $49.96
Irrigated 154 34,046 $6,720,744 $197.40
Orchard/Vineyard 99 15,460 $9,425,803 $609.69
Grazing 781 589,885 $598,149 $1.01
Range Permits 43 313,358 $325,284 $1.04
Totals 1,679 1,201,058 $23,463,592  
DNR ag and grazing revenue-2013 v. 2014

CLICK on graphic for larger image

by Pat Ryan, DNR Agriculture Program Manager