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Corry Introduces Bill To Protect Farmers Leasing State Trust Lands

Washington 14th District State Representative Chris Corry has introduced a bill he says would put better protections in place for farmers and ranchers leasing state trust lands.  House Bill 1964 would change Washington Department of Natural Resources standards when terminating a land lease.  Corry’s bill would require the agency to obtain written consent from the lessee before reclaiming the land.  Currently under the non-default or early termination provision of a state trust land lease, DNR is authorized to terminate the lease in the event the agency includes the land in a plan for a “higher or better use, land exchange, or sale” while also providing advance written notice with 180 days.  Corry says when DNR moves to terminate a land lease, farmers and ranchers take a financial hit.  DNR statistics show 1.1 million acres of state trust lands are leased for grazing or agricultural use.  The bill is in the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee.