Great ideas wanted for rural economic development with DNR

Maybe you’ve heard us say this already but DNR leases more than 1 million acres of state-owned agricultural and grazing lands, mostly in eastern Washington. Each year, these leases generate more than $15 million for public schools and other trust land beneficiaries, while the economic activity generated by private-sector farmers, ranchers, orchardists and others leasing those lands contributes to local economies as well as the state’s agricultural economy. Yet, we know there are many more opportunities out there for DNR lands to benefit rural communities.

That’s why Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz inaugurated the Rural Communities Partnership Initiative. Its aim is to pair DNR’s land assets and technical expertise with sustainable development opportunities in the private sector. As the name indicates, the initiative’s focus is on finding new economic development avenues in rural communities, especially those with traditional natural resource-based economies.

Examples include development of water rights and leases or, perhaps, further development in wine grapes, organic produce and other new avenues for DNR and its partners to offer more Washington-grown foods to local and global markets.

So DNR has the land and expertise, rural communities have the experience, skills and the need for investments and economic partnerships. What we need now are your ideas for sustainable development, projects that DNR can facilitate with a city council, city chamber of commerce, county leadership, local organizations and area businesses or business groups.

Here’s what you can do: View the areas of opportunity suggested on our Rural Communities Partnership Initiative webpage, then scroll down that page to complete an online form with your ideas for partnering with DNR in your community.

We look forward to hearing from you at: www.dnr.wa.gov/RCPI