Legal options to end the mandate

The Washington Forest Law Center has been holding the DNR legally accountable for its actions for many, many years. Check their website for case histories and contact information.

The legal foundation for the DNR’s perceived “fiduciary responsibility” to maximize revenue to “get the cut out for kids” comes via Article 9 in the state Constitution, the Federal Enabling Act, and, more recently, from the 1984 County of Skamania V. State decision and “AGO 11” 1996.

Support the McCleary decision – We Can and Must Fit Into this Constitutional Analysis and Realignment. See the full McCleary decision here.

  1. To fulfill the Washington Supreme Court’s directive to fund K-12 education with “regular and dependable tax sources,” legislators should/must abolish the archaic DNR mandate and pay school construction bills with taxes, not timber–because timber dollars are not “tax sources” and as Tom Ahearne indicates, DNR dollars are neither dependable nor regular.”
  2. As Tom Ahearne, lead plaintiffs’ attorney in the McCleary case, was quoted in the Seattle Times: “McCleary confirmed the State’s Constitutional duty to amply fund not only K-12 operating costs but construction costs as well, a duty that to date has been neglected with a non‑ample hodge-podge of timber, lottery, and local funding that is neither dependable nor regular.”

Constitutional Debates Already Exist About the Legitimacy of the Mandate

Our state Constitution provides two conflicting articles about the disposition of public trust lands. Article 9, which was strengthened in 1966, suggest that all state timber lands were to be harvested for the common schools while Article 16 states that, “All the public lands granted to the state are held in trust for all the people.” All, not just people in K-12 education.

Read Daniel Jack Chasan’s opposition to the DNR mandate in “A Trust for All the People: Rethinking the Management of Washington’s State Forests,” (Harvard University; Seattle University School of Law). Mr. Chasan also wrote: THE WATER LINK: A HISTORY OF PUGET SOUND AS A RESOURCE.



SECTION 1 PREAMBLE. It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

SECTION 2 PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established. But the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.

SECTION 3 FUNDS FOR SUPPORT. [AMENDMENT 43, 1965 ex.s. Senate Joint Resolution No. 22, part 1, p 2817. Approved November 8, 1966.] “There is hereby established the common school construction fund to be used exclusively for the purpose of financing the construction of facilities for the common schools. The sources of said fund shall be: (1) Those proceeds derived from the sale or appropriation of timber and other crops from school and state lands subsequent to June 30, 1965, other than those granted for specific purposes;”


SECTION 1 DISPOSITION OF. All the public lands granted to the state are held in trust for all the people and none of such lands, nor any estate or interest therein, shall ever be disposed of unless the full market value of the estate or interest disposed of, to be ascertained in such manner as may be provided by law….