DNR buys Hancock easement to protect owl habitat
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has purchased a permanent conservation easement to protect critical wildlife habitat on a parcel of the privately-owned Hancock Timber Reserve near Snoqualmie.
The easement, setting aside approximately 25 acres as permanent wildlife habitat, was purchased from Hancock Timber Resource Group for $460,000. It is the first conservation easement purchased through the expanded Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program, which the Washington Legislature funds to protect upland critical habitat for northern spotted owl and other species of concern designated by the state’s Forest Practices Board.
“This purchase is an example of how DNR and the private sector can work together to protect endangered species while retaining an economically viable forest industry,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who leads DNR.
“These lands contain some of the best northern spotted owl habitat available on non-federal lands in Washington state and now they will remain that way,” said Joe Stohr, deputy director, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“As a forest manager, we have a strong interest and a long history in working with other partners to create conservation easements on lands with such high ecological value to threatened and endangered species,” said Tim McBride, wildlife biologist for the Hancock Timber Resource Group.
In addition to forestland and open space, the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program allows DNR to purchase conservation easements on properties where a river’s active channel meanders – known as channel migration zones. These islands of timber tend to have high ecological value to species like salmon and steelhead.