Senate passes Hawkins’ bill to create ‘community forest’ pilot project

A bill prime-sponsored by 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins that would help keep Nason Ridge near Lake Wenatchee accessible to the public was passed today by the Senate 41-5.

Hawkins’ proposal, Second Substitute Senate Bill 5873, would establish a community forest pilot project established by the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. The pilot project would end June 30, 2025.

“A community forest, if done right, can help reflect a community’s values and take into account multiple interests like forest health, outdoor recreation, aquatic issues and fishery issues,” said Hawkins. “This is a good opportunity for forested lands like those at Nason Ridge to be publicly accessible and remain working lands where trees can be harvested responsibly and revenue can be generated and put back into management of the forest.”

Nason Ridge would be one of a few community forest projects that the pilot project would fund through the state’s capital budget.

Under the proposal, the pilot project would have to be managed consistent with these community forest principles:

  • A community forest is owned and managed by or on behalf of a local community.
  • The governance structure of a community forest ensures collaboration and community participation in management decisions and the allocation of revenue generated from the forest.
  • The community has secure and reliable access to the forest’s values and benefits.
  • The forest is managed in accordance with a community forest management plan.

The bill is supported by the Chelan County commissioners, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and state advocacy groups.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.