"Today, I want to congratulate King County and Hancock Timber Resource Group on their agreement to conserve private forest land in Washington state. The County's purchase of development rights for 100,000 acres of forestland will help efforts to preserve this land and its economic benefits for generations to come. It is just one more example of what we can accomplish when we work together. Without the leadership of King County Executive Ron Sims and Councilman Larry Phillips, today's announcement would not have been possible. I also want to recognize the years of work of Evergreen Forest Trust and the Cascade Land Conservancy that has inspired all our efforts.

"In 1999 and again in 2002, I introduced the Community Forestry and Agriculture Conservation Act. The bill would clarify current law so that local governments around the country -- through community-based non-profit organizations -- could issue bonds to conserve forestland. I have passed this legislation through the Senate three times and plan to see it become law this year.

"Today's announcement is an important step forward, and I will continue to work to pass my legislation with community groups, local governments, and businesses in Washington state to ensure they have the tools they need to protect our productive timber lands from urban sprawl."