March 27, 2018 edition
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Whether it's planning ahead for the next wildfire season or improving the health of Puget Sound, we know that to be successful long-term caretakers of our public land, we have to invest in our landscapes now.

And, just as we must invest in our lands and waters, we must also invest in our rural communities, many of which face significant economic challenges.

That’s why this month I traveled to Raymond, Willapa Bay, Kalama, and Ilwaco to announce a $3.5 million investment to create economic opportunity as part of my Rural Communities Partnership Initiative.

I was also reminded last week that at the heart of our public lands are the amazing people who make up this agency. Below you'll find the story of one of our recreation staff members whose tenacity kept our communities safe. 

With much gratitude,

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary S. Franz 

Investing in our rural communities

Washington is rich in natural resources, and I'm investing in ways to make sure those assets are serving the communities they surround. This month, my team and I announced a $3.5 million funding package for our first crop of projects that will create dozens of new jobs and preserve hundreds more.

Through our Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, we're securing funding to re-open an alder mill in Raymond, help oyster growers manage burrowing shrimp in Pacific County, build a facility in Ilwaco to remove and recycle derelict vessels, and train a new generation of natural resource workers in Kalama.

We're working with several other communities across Washington to launch similar partnerships. Stay tuned and share your ideas for boosting our state's rural communities at See more in our video to the right. 

Saving our Southern Resident orcas 

This month, I stood with Governor Inslee and leaders from around the Salish Sea to recommit to saving our Southern Resident orcas. As Commissioner of Public Lands, I pledge that my agency will support and expand all efforts to protect our orcas’ habitat.
Our scientists and our land managers, with their decades of experience, will focus on protection and restoration efforts on the nearshore, because it all starts with habitat. We need to double our efforts to protect salmon habitat across the Salish Sea and the Columbia River basin as well as strengthen our stocks of forage fish that feed our salmon. This will also support the threatened marbled murrelet, which shares the sea and its food supply with our orcas.

We'll need to improve how we treat and prevent stormwater runoff into Puget Sound, reducing pollutants that build up in habitat and continue throughout the food chain — all the way up to orcas. We need to do everything we can to prepare for and prevent catastrophic oil spills. And we need to slow vessel traffic in orca habitat. This is not going to be simple, but when Washington faces leadership challenges, we are a state that steps up and steps forward with confidence, collaboration, and vision. See more in this King 5 coverage

Preparing for fire season 

Last week, I had the opportunity to welcome to Yakima the Incident Management Teams from Alaska, Oregon and Washington for a week of wildfire season preparation. These teams are invaluable to our Pacific Northwest communities in protecting people and our natural resources.

As our fire seasons become more severe, their leadership and commitment will become even more important. Together, we're embracing a new, shared vision for wildland fire protection in the Pacific Northwest. At DNR, we've improved communication and coordination across state, federal, and local agencies through joint trainings and included stakeholders and local landowners in our fire response efforts. We've increased the use of air assets to get on top of fires quicker and pre-positioned equipment in areas we know are prone to fire due to weather and forest health conditions.

We know we need to do even more, which is why we've started working on a Strategic Wildfire Protection Plan for Washington. This plan will identify the resources, equipment, training and coordination that we need to fight wildfires now and in 20 years. Learn more about the ensuing plan at

Recognizing valuable DNR employees

DNR is full of hard-working, talented individuals who are stewards to our state's land and waters — and who care about the people and communities that love and cherish these places. One of our Education and Enforcement Stewards, CJ Jones, is a reminder of the amazing character of the people who work to serve our state every day. When it came to illegal activity that our neighbors in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest were facing, his hard work and initiative — and collaboration with partner agencies — brought it to an end. We are safer because of CJ's efforts, and I commend his work to protect our communities. See more in this Seattle Times coverage
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