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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Land near Lucia, Moulton falls to become a park after state transfers parcel to Clark County

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 17, 2023, 4:47pm

After more than three years of discussions and negotiations, the state Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday approved the transfer of an 80-acre parcel of land southwest of Yacolt to Clark County. The land to be transferred is between the Hantwick trailhead, just east of Lucia Falls Regional Park, and Moulton Falls Regional Park. The parcel will now become a park.

The county’s efforts to transfer the property, called the Hantwick Inter-Fund Transfer and Reconveyance Project, began in December 2019 when the county signed a letter of intent for the purchase. The last action came in July when the county council unanimously authorized County Manager Kathleen Otto to execute an agreement with the state.

“We’re not done yet, but this has been a lesson for me on how long things take,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said during the July meeting.

The transfer process was originally expected to be completed in 18 months. Medvigy said residents’ concerns about timber harvesting and railroad activities, protecting salmon habitat and what would happen to the trail made the transfer worth pursuing.

“This partnership between DNR and Clark County preserves this pristine natural area for generations,” Council Chair Karen Bowerman said in a press release Tuesday. “We appreciate the efforts of DNR and Clark County Legacy Lands staff in bringing this exchange and reconveyance to fruition.”

The Department of Natural Resources manages 3 million acres of state trust lands in Washington. Nearly 1.8 million acres of those lands fund the Common School Trust, which provides funding for K-12 school construction projects throughout the state.

Because only state trust properties can be transferred, the state had to complete the exchange in two transactions. The first transaction swapped 80 acres of land that supports the Common School Trust for 202 acres of equally valued state forest land in the area that supports local services in Clark County.

The second transaction was the reconveyance of the 80-acre parcel. The lands are each appraised at $925,000 in total value between land and timber.

“These transactions will allow Clark County to consolidate parkland around the Moulton Falls Trail while making state lands in the area easier to manage in the long term,” Hilary Franz, commissioner of Public Lands, said in the press release. “I am excited that the years of community support and hard work of staff will create a win-win for the state and the people who recreate along the Lewis River.”

For more information about the land exchange, go to https://www.dnr.wa.gov/managed-lands/land-transactions/hantwick-inter-trust-exchange.

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