3-4 April 2023
Seattle, Washington

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Speakers 2023

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Hilary Franz

Hilary Franz

Commissioner of Public Lands, Washington State Department of Natural Resources
United States

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz leads Washington state’s wildfire fighting force and manages nearly 6 million acres of public lands – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to working forests and farms, commercial developments, and unparalleled recreation areas.

Commissioner Franz is committed to ensuring our public lands are healthy and productive, both today and for future generations. She has led efforts to protect our communities and environment from the impacts of a changing climate, increased development, and wildfire.

Franz has also prioritized supporting local communities, both urban and rural. The lands she manages sustainably generate hundreds of millions of dollars for schools and public services, like libraries and hospitals. And she has allocated millions of dollars to spark economic opportunities in struggling rural communities. She knows that our working lands – and the communities that depend on them for family-wage jobs – are integral to our success as a state, and she is investing in their success.

Since taking office in 2017, Franz has:

  • Secured a historic $500 million investment from the state Legislature to prevent and fight wildfires, fund forest restoration, and build community resilience. This bipartisan legislation – supported by a wide-ranging coalition of firefighters, fire chiefs, tribes, environmentalists, and public health advocates – passed unanimously.
  • Developed a 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan to restore wildfire resilience in our forests. This plan will make more than 1 million acres of forest healthier and more resistant to wildfires – at a scale and pace that is unprecedented. Already, DNR has conducted forest restoration work on hundreds of thousands of acres to increase forest and watershed resilience.
  • Developed the agency’s first-ever Plan for Climate Resilience, which lays out a course of action to combat the threat of climate change. Commissioner Franz works with a coalition of science, policy, and business leaders to recommend and implement climate resilience in Washington state.
  • Worked with the Legislature protect nearly 40,000 additional acres of state lands, including the preservation of Blanchard Mountain, adding them to the 800,000 acres of DNR lands already managed for conservation.  
  • Ordered the shutdown and removal of a salmon farm in Port Angeles following the unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon. She was also a central part of the successful effort to halt federal plans for offshore drilling near the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Introduced a sweeping proposal to “Keep Washington Evergreen” by protecting 1 million acres of forest from deforestation and replanting 1 million acres of forest by 2040.

Under Commissioner Franz’s leadership, DNR has built a robust clean-energy program to help combat the climate crisis and create clean energy jobs. For the first time in Washington state history, the agency has leased state trust lands for solar power projects. Franz has also expanded DNR’s wind power program, with wind turbines on state trust lands that can generate 200 megawatts of power, which raise millions to build public schools and universities.

Franz is a third-generation farmer and small forest landowner, and has three boys who she raised on a farm. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a juris doctor from Northeastern University Law School.

 

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