WASHINGTON, DC - Today Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell announced $389,000 for Lewis County’s Family Forest Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to help small private forestland owners in Lewis County develop an HCP tailored to the needs of owners of small tracts of private land.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the Interior Department, is distributing these funds as part of a grant program to promote private land stewardship. In Washington state, timber companies and other private landowners have pioneered HCPs as a way to conserve salmon and other endangered species while allowing for commercial timber harvest and other development activities.

Cantwell worked in conjunction with Lewis County’s Family Forest Foundation (FFF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help secure the grant.

"These funds will help Lewis County landowners preserve their lands for fish and wildlife while keeping valuable timber lands under family ownership and in forestry production," said Cantwell. "I am proud that Washington state landowners are working together to conserve their lands and promote our economy. These federal funds are an endorsement of local efforts to protect habitat the way community members decide is best."

Murray worked to make these funds available through her work on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Protecting our threatened and endangered species is vital to protecting our quality of life in Washington state," Senator Murray said. "This grant represents the best of partnerships between local organizations and individuals and state and federal agencies. I am pleased that these partnerships are working to benefit both endangered species and landowners across Washington state."

Lewis County, the Family Forest Foundation, and local landowners will work with one another to develop a local HCP that works best for Lewis County.

Family Forest Foundation President Tom Fox stated, "The Family Forest Foundation is very thankful for the support we received from Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell in helping secure these funds. This is great news for family forest landowners in Lewis county, Washington state and across the nation. Family forest landowners are a unique and very diverse class of landowners that are facing many challenges that threaten their viability. The Family Forest HCP will foster economically and ecologically sustainable family forests."