The Department of Natural Resources.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages a number of different categories of land on behalf of the State of Washington, each for a specific purpose and under different management requirements. One category of lands managed through the DNR is aquatic lands. The DNR manages more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands and must support a balance of use demands and statutory goals such as public use, environmental protections, trade, transportation, and generating revenue consistent with those goals.
Community Engagement Plans.
Pursuant to legislation enacted in 2021, the DNR and certain other state agencies must create and adopt a community engagement plan that describes planned engagement with overburdened communities and vulnerable populations for purposes of implementing the agency's environmental justice responsibilities. This plan must include best practices for outreach and communication, the use of special screening tools, processes that facilitate the inclusion of community members affected by agency decision-making, and methods for outreach and communication.
Kelp Forest and Eelgrass Meadow Health and Conservation Plan.
Subject to available funding, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must establish a Kelp Forest and Eelgrass Meadow Health and Conservation Plan (Plan) with the goal to conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040. In developing the various elements of the Plan, the DNR must engage with impacted communities using the community engagement plan that the DNR and other state agencies are required to develop related to overburdened communities and vulnerable populations and must also consult with a variety of other partners, including impacted tribal nations and other local and regional partners.
Additionally, the DNR must invite input from federally recognized tribal nations on kelp forests and eelgrass meadows with important cultural and ecological values that are threatened by urbanization or other disturbances.
The Plan must assess and prioritize areas for coordinated conservation and restoration actions, and must consist of four elements: assessment and prioritization; identifying coordinated actions and success measures; monitoring; and reporting.
The DNR must develop a framework to identify and prioritize kelp forests areas in greatest need. The framework must incorporate conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, mapping and prioritization of kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas, and identification of potential stressors impacting the health and vitality of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.
The DNR must collaborate with impacted tribal nations and other local and regional partners to address conservation and restoration needs in the priority areas and the appropriate tools and partnerships to address them. In doing so, the DNR must conduct an assessment and inventory of existing tools that are relevant to conserving and reducing the decline of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and to identify new or amended tools to support the goals of the Plan.
By December 1, 2022, the DNR must provide a report to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the appropriate committees of the Legislature that includes a map and justification of identified priority areas, determines an approach to monitoring areas that are meeting conservation or restoration criteria identified in the Plan, and describes activities to be undertaken consistent with the Plan.
By December 1, 2023, the DNR must finalize and submit the Plan to the OFM and the appropriate committees of the Legislature. Each subsequent biennium, the DNR must continue to monitor distributions and trends of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows to inform both adaptive management of the Plan and coordinated partner actions.
The DNR must submit a report to the Legislature that describes the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow conservation priority areas and monitoring approaches and findings. Beginning December 1, 2024, and by December 1 of each subsequent even-numbered year, the DNR must provide the OFM and the appropriate committees of the Legislature with: