Jaime Herrera Beutler Applauds Win-Win Agreement Between Skamania County, Forest Service Over Gillette Lakes Property

U.S. Forest Service and Skamania County sign Memorandum of Agreement to protect against the loss of taxable, commercial use land in Skamania County; allows Pacific Crest Trail improvement project to move forward

Washington, D.C., July 26, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — This week, as a result of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s intervention, the U.S. Forest Service and Skamania County signed a Memorandum of Agreement that allows the Forest Service to proceed with a land purchase to benefit the Pacific Crest Trail while ensuring that Skamania County will not suffer a loss in tax revenues.

This week, as a result of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s intervention, the U.S. Forest Service and Skamania County signed a Memorandum of Agreement that allows the Forest Service to proceed with a land purchase to benefit the Pacific Crest Trail while ensuring that Skamania County will not suffer a loss in tax revenues.

Earlier this week, Skamania County and the U.S. Forest Service agreed to a path forward that would allow the Forest Service to purchase 273 acres surrounding Gillette Lakes, while setting the stage for the Forest Service to work toward turning its Wind River Nursery property over to Skamania County ownership for economic development.

“This is a ground-breaking agreement, and I commend the U.S. Forest Service for responding to my call to work cooperatively with Skamania County to chart a path forward where everyone benefits,” said Jaime. “This agreement not only keeps the amount of taxable, workable land in Skamania County in place, but it provides a viable blueprint for the Forest Service and County on future land issues. I was confident that a win-win solution existed that would protect Skamania County’s source of funding for its schools and police force, and also provide benefit to Pacific Crest Trail enthusiasts.

“Too often, there aren’t enough voices to speak out for our rural communities who simply want a healthy balance between conservation and recreation, and the access to resources necessary for their survival,” continued Jaime. “I’m 100% committed to staying involved with this issue to ensure the Forest Service remains transparent and accountable to Skamania County until this agreement is put into action.”

“We appreciate the congresswoman listening to many facets of this issue and committing her staff to help us have this dialogue with the county,” said Lynn Burditt, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Manager. “With her involvement, we were able to come to a successful compromise that will fully acknowledge Skamania County’s land and revenue needs, and also move ahead with improvements to the Pacific Crest Trail.”

“We are excited to move forward with this agreement that could provide a framework for working with Skamania county and other interested groups on land adjustment issues going forward,” said Gina Owens, Forest Supervisor, Gifford Pinchot National Forest. “The Forest Service is dedicated to working with state and federal legislators and county/municipal governments to resolve land and resource use issues to mutual benefit.“

“Skamania County Commissioners look forward to continually addressing the concerns of residents for local schools, emergency and government services, through extremely limited, sustainable, private property tax revenue, and providing living-wage job opportunities, with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and National Scenic Area officials through this new agreement,” said Christopher Brong, Skamania County Commissioner.

Background:

In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service communicated its intent to purchase 273 acres of land surrounding Gillette Lakes. Jaime heard strong concerns from Skamania County officials, school administrators and emergency service providers about the purchase. With less than 3% of Skamania County lands available to generate funds for its roads, schools, and emergency services, communities within Skamania County are unable to bear any further loss of the taxable land base. These concerns led Jaime to direct the Forest Service to pause the purchase, and to work with Skamania County on a compromise that would leave result in no net loss of tax revenues for the County.

Read more about Jaime’s call for a collaborative, win-win solution by clicking here.

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