People who want to comment on the fate of 490 acres of state land near Twisp — in seven separate parcels — can do so in person at a public meeting next Thursday (Dec. 12) in Twisp.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has proposed selling these properties and replacing them with land that would generate more income for the school trusts. The lands would be transferred into the state land bank.
The proposal has generated concern among many people in the Methow who walk, ski and watch wildlife on the lands. Many say that the lands provide important habitat for birds, mammals and fish. Still others say that the state has a responsibility to generate income from its land holdings and that swapping these parcels is appropriate.
The seven parcels are all within a few miles of Twisp — four on Balky Hill Road, two south of town near the Okanogan County Public Utility District substation, and one south of town on the Methow River.
DNR is required to sell properties at auction at fair-market value — the minimum bid for the properties is the appraisal, Deborah Whitney, DNR’s exchange project manager, said. Proceeds go into the land bank so DNR can purchase other properties for future transfers. DNR can sell property to a city or government agency without going through an auction, Whitney said.
A DNR spokesperson said the agency scheduled the public meeting because of the high level of interest from the Methow Valley. DNR has also extended the comment period a second time. Comments are due by Jan. 15, 2020.
For more information and a map of the properties, visit www.dnr.wa.gov/managed-lands/land-transactions/land-bank-exchange-2019, or contact Whitney at (360) 902-1482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who tried to comment in writing may not have gotten through because there was a typo in the email address DNR provided. The correct address to comment by email is email@example.com.
The public meeting is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp.