Foothills land exchange continues to pay off

View of Port Angeles
View of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the City of Port Angeles –- an important tourism city for those visiting the Olympic Peninsula -– as seen from DNR-managed trust lands that were consolidated in the Foothills Exchange. Photo: Robert Winslow/DNR

A 2011 land exchange between DNR and a private landowner continues to pay dividends for the agency, recreationalists and the environment. In the Foothills Exchange, DNR traded about 6,400 acres of forested state trust lands scattered across the Olympic Peninsula for 9,351 acres of forestland, much of it in large consolidated blocks adjacent to other tracts of state trust land near Hoodsport, Hood Canal and Lake Cushman.

For recreationalists, the DNR acquisitions protect large blocks of working forestland from encroaching residential development while complementing several recent federal land purchases and dam removals along the Elwha River. In addition to improving water quality in the Elwha River and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the land exchange helps assure public access to more of the popular cross-peninsula Discovery Trail.

The properties acquired by DNR in the transaction include 5,171 acres in Clallam County; 2,600 acres in Jefferson County and 1,520 acres in Mason County. DNR will manage properties for natural resources production and wildlife habitat in a manner consistent with its multi-decade Habitat Conservation Plan agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This consolidation of state trust lands also improves DNR’s access to thousands of acres of forestland it manages on the Olympic Peninsula for trust beneficiaries such as local county services, K-12 public schools statewide, and Washington State University construction projects