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Washington electric utility to receive land for ongoing conservation efforts

Seattle City Light will receive 850 acres of wilderness from the Washington Department of Natural Resources for stewardship under the utility’s Wildlife Lands Program, the utility reported.

The Department of Natural Resources expects to turn over the property to the utility in early 2010 at no cost under the state’s Trust Land Transfer Program. The program allows for the transfer of land to public agencies that are better able to care for it with no need to generate revenue.

“Seattle City Light is committed to producing low-cost electricity in an environmentally-sensitive manner,” Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “Part of that stewardship responsibility is taking care of the fish and animals that depend on the watersheds that power our hydroelectric dams. Protecting these lands as wilderness is one more way we are living up to that commitment.”

The wilderness areas that will be transferred are the 640-acre Finney Creek and 210-acre Olivine Ends parcels. The Finney Creek parcel is located in the Skagit River drainage near existing Seattle City Light lands, while the Olivine Ends parcel is located in the Nooksack River drainage near other wilderness managed by the utility.

The company operates three hydro projects along the Skagit River and has ongoing conservation efforts at lands near the river. The lands to be donated contain habitat for elk, salmon and other wildlife.

Seattle City Light is among the nation’s largest public electric utilities. The utility has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005 and is the first U.S. electric utility to achieve that distinction, according to information from the company.

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