For Immediate Release: September 2, 2021
Media Contact: Zachary DeWolf, Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters, 206-771-4207
While progress was made to protect our natural resources, more work remains
WASHINGTON STATE—Today, Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters released their annual State of Forests and Public Lands report online, which is an annual evaluation of Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, and the Department of Natural Resources. The report can be found online here.
Since 2015, WEC and WCV have produced the annual State of our Forests and Public Lands Report, which assesses progress made by Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Commissioner is the only statewide elected office that works almost exclusively with our natural resources. Their actions are critical to the health of Washington’s ecosystems and people.
“Washington’s natural resources are precious to all of us—we expect a lot from the leaders who manage them because we need them now and for future generations,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “Commissioner Franz has an incredibly difficult job–holding her and DNR accountable ensures we can restore and maintain the resources that sustain us. This annual report allows us to highlight the successes and the work that still remains.”
This year, Commissioner Franz showed leadership and accomplished success on two important legislative priorities: mobilizing resources to ensure wildfire response protects Washington communities from the threat of uncharacteristic wildfire and strengthening DNR’s urban forestry engagement to reduce heat islands and increase livability in neighborhoods across the state . She also made progress on other key areas of work, including the Plan for Climate Resilience and the 20 Year Forest Health Plan.
“DNR is unique in its mandate to oversee the management of our state’s forests. For this reason, our organization is focused squarely on the areas of Commissioner Franz and DNR’s work that protects and preserves our state’s forests and natural resources,” said Rachel Baker, Forest Program Director for Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “We are grateful for the work that Commissioner Franz has done during her tenure and will continue to hold her accountable to the work we believe is vital to protecting the environment for generations to come.”
However, challenges remain, particularly on state forestlands and private forest issues, which are core to DNR’s mandate. In order to adequately respond to the climate crisis, DNR must lead on issues including forest carbon sequestration, managing older forests on state lands, aquatics, and maintaining cool, healthy streams in the forested landscape. Washingtonians expect more from the state’s management of forests and public lands—our forests, salmon, people and all of our futures depend on it.