The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has awarded its first Good Neighbor Authority restoration timber harvest sale. Colville-based Vaagen Brothers Timber Company was the successful bidder Tuesday for a project that will reduce hazardous timber overgrowth on 604 acres of forest in the Colville National Forest.

“This project is a great example of the partnerships we will need to address the forest health crisis that has filled Washington’s skies with wildfire smoke the past couple of summers. Wildfire doesn’t care about who owns the forestland; neither can our restoration efforts,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “With this sale, we are taking a big step towards the goals laid out in our 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan that will make our communities safer from wildfire and forests more productive.”

Commissioner Franz signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement with the United States Forest Service in March of last year. The agreement authorizes DNR to conduct forest, watershed and rangeland restoration projects on federal land.

This project, known as the Block of Nine, will use mechanical thinning to restore the health of an area identified as a priority under Commissioner Franz’s 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan. The sale of that timber will generate upwards of $1.5 million and boost the economy of northeast Washington by making 5.8 million board feet of timber available.

Revenue generated by the timber sale will be used to fund further restoration projects within the Colville National Forest. The Washington State Legislature last session created a new fund for DNR to hold this revenue to ensure it is then used to speed the pace and scale of forest restoration work on federal lands. Additional follow up restoration fuels treatments will occur following the completion of the Block of Nine.

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