With your vote, we can bring our shared values to this important office – for us and for future generations of Washingtonians. My priorities as Commissioner of Public Lands will be:
Strengthening School Funding and Our Rural Economies
As a mom, I believe it is our number one priority to provide a quality education for our kids. The McCleary decision makes clear that our state is falling short on its paramount duty to provide a quality education for every child. We need to ensure long-term, year-to-year dependable, funding sources and not put all of our eggs in one basket.
As Commissioner of Public Lands, I will put every opportunity on the table to help meet DNR’s responsibility for funding schools — including timber, clean energy, and increased agricultural production on state lands. Diversifying and increasing our revenue opportunities on our public lands will help provide more dependable, sustainable funding for school construction.
To diversify revenue streams from our public lands, I plan to do the following:
1) Complete an Asset Management Analysis of our public lands;
2) Place a natural resource economic development expert in each DNR region;
3) Support critical infrastructure such as mills and biomass to grow our natural resource economies; and
4) Increase investments in clean energy.
To maximize sustainable revenue on our public lands, we must first complete an Asset Management Analysis of our public lands. We will use that analysis to identify what is needed to make those lands more productive and grow local natural resource economies.
I will also have a natural resource economic development expert in each region to work with the local communities on growing the local natural resource economies and identifying the types of investments needed to increase the natural resource economy. This is particularly crucial for rural economies that for too long have been left behind in this state.
Lastly, there are parcels of land we could be leveraging for clean energy opportunities. When we invest in clean energy, such as wind and solar, we can generate significant revenues while reducing our carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs.
Our children deserve a quality education. I will work to ensure that our children have a reliable, year-after-year source of school funding for generations to come.
It is because of my commitment to strong schools and local communities that I have the endorsement of the Washington Education Association and local, state and federal leaders across the state.
Improving Forest Resiliency and Wildfire Management
Over the last few years, our communities and forests have been devastated by growing catastrophic wildfire. In 2015 alone, nearly 1M acres burned. Nearly 2.7 million acres of forests in Eastern Washington alone are in poor health due to climate change, insects, disease, and drought, resulting in more frequent, catastrophic wildfires.
To improve forest resiliency and to reduce catastrophic wildfires, these forests need to be actively managed. As Commissioner of Public Lands, I will implement an effective Wildfire Management Plan that will include the following:
- Actively managing unhealthy forests, including prescribed burning, selective thinning, cleaning up woody debris, and diversifying forest stock;
- Supporting mill infrastructure to actively manage our forestlands and reduce the cost of restoring our forests to health;
- Improving coordination with local fire districts and communities to better respond to wildfire emergencies;
- Helping communities prepare fire prone landscapes through programs like Fire Adapted Communities and the FireWise program; and
- Secure critical funding for preventing and responding to wildfires by working closely with the Legislature and Federal Government.
The loss of timber infrastructure investments in parts of our state has hampered our ability to actively manage our working forests, making forest health treatments costly and limited in scale. We need to expand our milling and biomass capabilities in order to actively manage our forestlands, reducing fuel loads from diseased and dying trees that are making wildfires more catastrophic. I will ensure we make critical infrastructure investments to create a forest resiliency economy that can support the long-term active management of our forests while creating economic opportunities for rural communities.
Additionally, prescribed burns are one of the most effective proactive wildfire management tools at our disposal. Washington currently carries out far fewer prescribed burns than neighboring Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California. I will look to expand our ability to conduct surgical and strategic prescribed burns by putting fire to work.
On wildfire suppression, I will work to improve collaboration between local, state, and federal fire jurisdictions, so that we are able to respond better to fires in a timely and efficient manner. I will also leverage my experience working with the Legislature to secure critical funding necessary for preventing catastrophic wildfires and having adequate resources to fight wildfires.
It is because of my approach and my experience that I have the sole endorsements of the Washington State Fire Chiefs and Washington State Firefighters Council.
Addressing Climate Change and Expanding Opportunities for Clean Energy
Washington State should be a model for moving forward toward responsibly mitigating and adapting to climate change and creating a modern, clean energy economy. I believe that climate change is the biggest economic and environmental challenge facing our generation. We do not have time to waste.
I will work to help our communities adapt better to climate change — from protecting water supply and investing in clean water, ensuring our ability to grow our food and wood product here, responding to ocean acidification, and expanding clean energy opportunities on DNR lands.
I will install an economic development officer in each region of DNR, to both identify opportunities for stimulating local natural resource economies as well as identifying areas for clean energy generation. If we invest in clean energy facilities such as wind and solar, we can transform landscapes currently generating zero dollars per acre, to $1,200-$1,400 per acre. I have experience working at the local and state level to expand clean energy production and jobs.
I also oppose the use of our public lands for the expansion of dangerous and dirty fuel sources. Coal is projected to be an economically outdated energy source within 10 years, making it a poor economic investment as well as a health, environmental, and treaty rights concern. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recognized these same concerns when they suspended the Cherry Point Coal Terminal project this year, which was shown to violate the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation, and would seriously degrade water quality, air quality, and fish habitat.
I believe that our state will be better off both economically and environmentally by investing in alternative energy sources, and I intend to partner with local economies in order to do so.
Promoting Access to our Public Lands and Recreation Opportunities for All
Connecting people with our public lands is key to ensuring the good stewardship of our public lands for the future. That is why I strongly support increasing recreational opportunities on our public lands– from hiking, biking, horse-riding, shooting, to dirt biking, off-roading, boating, hunting and fishing. All users should have places in Washington’s great outdoors. I believe we have great opportunities for expanding our recreation industry in this state, as well as further connecting our people of all ages with our environment.
Plus, supporting outdoor recreation makes good business sense. Each year, Washingtonians and visitors trips and equipment, supporting 227,000 Washington jobs. As Commissioner of Public Lands, I will:
- Increase public recreation opportunities for all by including everyday recreationalists in DNR public land decision-making
- Engage young people as active stewards of the environment
- Create a Conservation Service Corps to steward our public lands for future generations while building job skills
- Invest in the long-term maintenance of public lands and recreational facilities, including trailheads, bathrooms, road access and trails.
I will work with schools, non-profits, and communities, to promote the engagement of young people as active stewards and students of the environment. I will also develop a Conservation Service Corps to leverage public investment and private philanthropy that will build job skills, improve public lands, and create connections to our natural resources, while building experience.
I recognize the importance of including everyday recreationalists in the decision-making processes of DNR, and I will work to ensure all recreationalists’ needs are met. I will support and promote collaboration of DNR with local user groups to create new trails and routes on DNR land to increase public recreation opportunities for all.
I will invest in our recreation and environmental tourism economy, which I believe presents a great opportunity for generating more revenue for our state. By making strategic investments in road access improvement, parking expansion, and bathroom facilities maintenance, we can further promote the connections between people and place in our state.