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Franz sworn in as lands commissioner

— Environmental activist Hilary Franz was sworn in yesterday as the state’s 14th commissioner of public lands.

Franz, 46, of Bainbridge Island, replaces Peter Goldmark in overseeing 5.6 million acres of publicly owned land managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

“As a third-generation farmer and small forest landowner, I grew up with a deep connection to the land,” Franz said.

The new commissioner plans to immediately begin efforts to improve the health of state forests and improve wildland firefighting.

“More than 2.7 million acres of Washington’s forests are in poor health, which leaves them vulnerable to destruction from increasingly catastrophic wildfire seasons,” she said. “It is absolutely critical that we prioritize improving the health of our forests and our wildfire response,” she said.

Prior to being elected, Franz was the executive director of Futurewise, an environmental activist group based in the Puget Sound area. She also served four years on the Bainbridge Island city council.

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