Conservation Northwest trying to Undo Established Precedent for Forest Management Benefits

Link to the Amicus Brief

Lawyers for DNR and Hilary Franz have submitted an Amicus brief in the case brought by Conservation Northwest to change the beneficiaries of forest lands management in Washington State.

The intent, or purpose, of the Conservation Northwest suit is not clearly disclosed in the Amicus brief, but the invalid arguments and negative ramifications of the suit are clearly laid-out.

It seems that two forested areas are administered by DNR;

  1. Federally granted lands ceded to the State of Washington by Congress on the admission of Washington as a State, and
  2. other lands retrieved from tax-delinquent private forest extraction companies by various counties in the state, after the trees were “harvested”.

These two separate lands have different designated beneficiaries. This division of beneficiaries was affirmed in Washington as recently as 1984 in as suit brought by Skamania County. The income is not insignificant. In the last 25 years, those total “State Trust Lands” have generated over $4.3 billion in revenue for the beneficiaries.

The Conservation Northwest suit seeks to co-mingle the beneficiaries by judicial fiat, in effect nullifying both the federal Omnibus Enabling Act of 1889 and Article XVI of the Washington Constitution. This new ruling, if granted, which diverges radically from established precedent in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington State, would open every decision of DNR to judicial scrutiny and interpretation by the Washington Supreme Court.

Abandoning Skamania would not only depart from core stare decisis principles, but inject confusion into state management of over 2 million acres of Washington forests.”

Elizabeth M. Dunne, Director of Legal Advocacy

Summary of the Amicus Brief by Michael Clemens, not a lawyer.