State lands commissioner visits Prosser today

Statewide tour includes stop in Paterson

— The city will be a featured stop today for a state official touting rural partnerships.

State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz will visit the Walter Clore Center, 2140 Wine Country Road, from 2:30-4 p.m. to discuss her Rural Communities Partnership Initiative.

“We’re excited to have her come out and take a look,” City Administrator Dave Stockdale said. “The rural communities partnership is brand new and they’re already having a lot of success with it in West Richland.”

Franz’s agency, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), leased some of its public lands to two wineries and agricultural producers.

West Richland ramped up its wastewater system to handle increased agricultural waste.

Stockdale thinks Prosser can replicate that success.

“We hope to be able to a least duplicate what West Richland is doing and take the lessons they learned there,” he said.

Prosser made an $8 million investment in its wastewater plant last year, expanding capacity by up to 50 percent. And the city is buying FruitSmart’s facility.

“The timing is really good,” Stockdale said. “I anticipate they’re (DNR) looking into the viability of setting up something similar in the Prosser area.”

After her Prosser stop, Franz will visit irrigated DNR sites in Paterson.

“The work being done with DNR lands for irrigation and agriculture has caught her attention,” DNR spokeswoman Cori Simmons said.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, represents the 15th district that borders the Benton County line and Prosser and covers much of the Lower Yakima Valley.

He’s taking a wait-and-see approach to Franz’s efforts.

“It sounds like the Commissioner is willing to consider better management of the forests,” Taylor said. “I’ll be interested in seeing her complete proposal.”


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