Blossoming fruit trees good for bees, farmers and schools

bee visits cherry tree
A bee drops in to sample a cherry tree blossom in an orchard on leased state trust land in Franklin County. Photo: Chad Unland/DNR.

Today is National Agriculture Day. Although spring doesn’t officially begin until later this week (9:30 p.m., March 19, 2016, to be precise), trees are budding and bees are buzzing all around the state. And that’s good news for public schools across Washington state. Why? Because the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) leases several thousand acres of orchard land in eastern Washington for revenue to support public school construction.

In Fiscal Year 2015 (which ended June 30, 2015) DNR orchard and vineyard leases generated $8.2 million. So excuse us if we choose to celebrate Agriculture Day every day because the combined lease and fee revenue from more than 1 million acres of DNR-managed agricultural and grazing trust lands is contributing millions of dollars each year — $21 million in 2015 — to build state universities and public schools statewide.

DNR also leases out dryland for crops like wheat and potatoes, as well as irrigated crop land, vineyards, orchards and grazing lands across the state. Public lease auctions are held throughout the year. See what’s for lease in our Lease Opportunity Viewer.

Learn more about how DNR manages state trust lands to produce revenue that helps support county services and build public schools, state universities and other institutions in the newly published 2015 DNR Annual Report.