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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Washington’s DNR building might get a new name. Here’s who it would be named for


OLYMPIA — The Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee will consider a proposal Nov. 16 to rename the state’s Natural Resources Building on the east Capitol Campus the Jennifer Belcher Building.

Belcher, the first woman to serve as Washington state’s public lands commissioner, died in 2022 at age 78. Belcher led the state Department of Natural Resources from 1993 to 2001. Among her accomplishments was the Habitat Conservation Plan for DNR managed forest lands. The plan, created in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is still used to allow reliable timber harvests while protecting habitat for threatened and endangered species.

Before serving as Commissioner of Public Lands, Belcher, a Democrat, began a decade of service in the state House of Representatives, representing Legislative District 22, which included most of Thurston County. As a representative, she pushed for subsidized child care and comparable pay for women employed by the state.

She also worked as an aide to Washington state Governors Daniel J. Evans and Dixy Lee Ray from 1973 to 1979.

Public comments on the building naming proposal can be sent to SCC-CCDACPublicComments@des.wa.gov by 4 p.m. Nov. 14. People also can sign up to comment during the meeting.

While the Legislature has ultimate naming authority, state law calls for recommendations that come from the Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee and the State Capitol Committee (SCC). After the Nov. 16 meeting, the advisory committee may forward recommendations to the SCC for consideration. The next SCC meeting is Dec. 7.

After any SCC recommendation, the proposing entity works with legislative sponsors to bring a concurrent resolution and funding package forward. The Legislature would need to appropriate funding for the necessary elements to support a name change such as signage and wayfinding.

Under state law, buildings on the Capitol Campus are eligible for naming or renaming when constructed, after significant renovation, or when there is a change in the main tenant agency headquartered there. Buildings can be named after:

  •  People who have played a significant role in Washington’s history.
  •  The building’s purpose or agency using building.
  •  Significant Washington places.
  •  Native American tribes.
  •  Groups or types of people.

When naming or renaming buildings, the Legislature must consider gender disparity, diversity of human achievement, and diversity of the state’s citizenry and history.