Blanchard State Forest Purchase Secures Scenic Vistas, School Funding

The Blanchard Forest Strategy is one step closer to full completion.

The plan, funded to completion by legislators last year, calls for the conservation of the 1,600-acre central portion of the state forest in Skagit County, with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources acquiring other lands nearby to replace the revenue once generated by timber harvests in the forest’s core.

Today, the state Board of Natural Resources approved DNR’s proposal to purchase nearly 200 acres of working forest next to Blanchard State Forest at its monthly meeting in Olympia.

“Completing this purchase ensures continued financial support for Skagit County students and local forestry jobs, all while protecting the core of Blanchard State Forest for present and future generations to enjoy,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads DNR and chairs the Board of Natural Resources.

A series of trails winds through the Blanchard State Forest in Skagit County. The core of the forest is being conserved as part of a Legislature-funded plan, and replacement working forests have been acquired nearby. (Photo by Ashli Blow, DNR)
A series of trails winds through the Blanchard State Forest in Skagit County. The core of the forest is being conserved as part of a Legislature-funded plan, and replacement working forests have been acquired nearby. (Photo by Ashli Blow, DNR)

Blanchard State Forest is a 4,800-acre forest in Skagit County managed by DNR. It is located on the southern end of the Chuckanut Range, north of the city of Burlington. The forest is state trust land that DNR manages to generate revenue to support Skagit County public services.

The acquisitions — two parcels of forest land offered by the Goodyear Nelson Lumber Co., totaling 193.25 acres and costing $1.22 million — will help replace the timber revenue that Skagit County once received from the popular, scenic portion of the inner forest that is being put into conservation status, while also increasing public access to the area.

DNR’s purchases are part of the Blanchard Forest Strategy, which calls for placing the 1,600-acre core zone that includes Samish Overlook, Oyster Dome and backcountry camping areas at Lily and Lizard lakes into permanent conservation status. That core zone was used to provide revenue to several Skagit County junior taxing districts, which prompted DNR to acquire replacement working forest elsewhere in the county.

Funds for these purchases are part of a recent $2 million legislative appropriation for DNR to continue the Blanchard Forest Strategy. The beneficiaries include Skagit County, Medic One, the Port of Skagit and United General Hospital, as well as the Burlington-Edison School District. The purchase of the other two private parcels in the appropriation, totaling 76 acres, was approved by the Board of Natural Resources in September.

One more land transaction is expected before the Blanchard Forest Strategy will be completed.

Looking to learn more about Blanchard State Forest or the recreation opportunities there? Visit dnr.wa.gov/Blanchard for more information.