OLYMPIA — The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to establish a community forest pilot program.
Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 5873, which passed with a 41-5 vote. It now heads to the House of Representatives.
Nason Ridge is one of three projects the program would fund through the state’s capital budget. If the bill becomes law and the program is successful, Hawkins said, legislators could pursue an ongoing statewide grant program.
Nason Ridge is 3,714 acres of forest along Nason Creek, a Wenatchee River tributary that provides vital salmon habitat. The property was owned by Weyerhaeuser, but instead of developing or logging, the timber company sold it to the Western Rivers Conservancy in June.
Western Rivers’ ownership of the property is temporary, so the goal is to find a long-term steward to keep the land publicly accessible and healthy.
The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust has already raised $1.1 million for the approximately $5.9 million project.