Skamania County to Gain More Than 23 Acres of Federal Land for Economic Development
Cantwell, Herrera Beutler, and Gluesenkamp Perez help secure land transfer of Wind River Administrative Site from the Forest Service to Skamania County in Omnibus package
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a bipartisan trio of Washington lawmakers – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), and U.S. Representative-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) – announced that 23.4 acres of the Wind River Administrative Site will transfer ownership from the U.S. Forest Service to Skamania County for economic development projects in rural Southwest Washington.
Rep. Herrera Beutler’s bill, H.R. 5093, the Wind River Administrative Site Conveyance Act, was included in the in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which funds government programs through September 30, 2023.
The Wind River Administrative Site is located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In 2000, Congress passed legislation that allowed the Forest Service to transfer ownership of 187 acres of the nursey site, which included nursery fields and buildings, to Skamania County. The conveyance of the remaining 23.4 acres of the Wind River Nursery will allow Skamania County to take ownership of nearly the entire site. The U.S. Forest Service supports the land transfer as it no longer has a use for the site, and the legislation protects access to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Skamania County has already invested nearly $200,000 into rehabilitation efforts and maintenance of the facilities covered under the conveyance and is committing to an estimated $800,000 in additional restoration efforts to prepare the site for economic development activities.
Currently, Skamania County relies on just 1.8% of taxable land to generate revenue for public services. Once the land is conveyed, the redevelopment projects planned by the county will bring in an estimated $600,000 annually, boosting its revenue to fund critical public services.
“This bill is big win for Skamania County. Transferring a little over 23 acres from the Forest Service to the County will increase the County’s land base and open doors to economic development and recreational opportunities that will create more jobs in Skamania County and Southwest Washington,” Sen. Cantwell said. “I want to thank Representative Herrera Beutler for her steadfast support of this bill.”
“It’s been more than six years coming, but my Wind River Conveyance Act – a bill to transfer ownership of 23 acres of land out of federal control and over to Skamania County – is likely to head to the president’s desk before year’s end. So much of Skamania County’s land is locked away under federal control, and it’s contributed to the budgetary shortfalls impacting schools and even basic services in that community. This win-win agreement I first helped broker in 2016 moves the needle the other way; it puts land back with the county to use for economic and recreational opportunities. It’s supported by the county, by the Forest Service, and now with the strong support of Senator Cantwell, it’s heading across the finish line. This is a nice win for a corner of Southwest Washington that needs more wins, and I’m grateful for the efforts of so many -- including Commissioners Hamlin and Lannen -- to serve the Skamania County community in this way,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said.
“As a Skamania County resident, I know firsthand that our county is missing out on much-needed revenue to support our communities, and conveying this land from the federal government to the county will make sure we’re getting the investments we need and deserve,” said Rep.-elect Gluesenkamp Perez. “I want to thank Rep. Herrera Beutler, a longtime leader on this issue, and Senator Cantwell for working with me to help get this legislation across the finish line for Skamania County. I’m looking forward to passing more bipartisan legislation as Southwest Washington’s independent voice in Congress.”
Rep. Herrera Beutler introduced the Wind River Administrative Site Conveyance Act and passed it out of the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. Sen. Cantwell worked with her colleagues at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to get the bill included as part of a small package of public lands bills included in the Omnibus. Rep.-elect Gluesenkamp Perez, a Skamania County resident, advocated for the bill’s passage before the end of the 117th Congress.
“The bipartisan partnership between Senator Maria Cantwell, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Congresswoman-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez to ultimately pass the Wind River Site Conveyance Act serves as example to the positive influence our policymakers can have on the communities they represent when they work together to find commonsense solutions,” said Skamania County Commissioner Tom Lannen. “For Skamania County, the passage of this legislation gives our community the opportunity to continue to strengthen our fragile economy.”
Today, the Senate passed the Omnibus by a vote of 68-29. The House is expected to vote on it this week.
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