Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley joined forestry advocates, Tribal leaders, and industry experts from across the state on Tuesday to introduce the Keep Washington Evergreen initiative to further conserve, reforest, and restore critical forestlands.
Keep Washington Evergreen aims to conserve one million acres of working forests, while reforesting an additional one million acres, including in burn scared and urban communities with disproportionately small amounts of tree cover, by 2040. The initiative was developed in close consultation with stakeholders, including Tribal partners, environmentalists, conservation groups, environmental justice advocates, and members of the forest products industry.
Washington State permanently lost 400,000 acres of forestland to human development from 2007 to 2019.Scientists expect the pace of forest conversion to increase without intervention, but even at the current pace, the state is on track to lose an additional 625,000 acres to development by 2040. Additionally, more than 4.5 million acres have burned in wildfires since 2010.
Commissioner Franz is partnering with the Legislature to develop a 20-Year strategy, establish a stakeholder advisory group, and make an initial investment of $25 million in capital funds to help meet the goals of Keep Washington Evergreen. The $25 million will be used to acquire critical forestlands at risk of development and keep working forests working for the state. Rep. Harris-Talley and Sen. Christine Rolfes, both Democrats, will co-sponsor the Keep Washington Evergreen legislation during the 2022 legislative session. (Dept of Natural Resources)