Hilary S. Franz was sworn in today as Washington’s 14th Commissioner of Public Lands.
Commissioner Franz, 46, said she will focus her administration on protecting the 5.6 million acres of land owned by the people of Washington so they can provide environmental and economic benefits for the communities they surround.
“As a third generation farmer and small forest landowner, I grew up with a deep connection to the land,” Commissioner Franz said. “Washington is blessed with abundant natural resources, from our forests and farmlands to our waterways. They face serious challenges from climate change, wildfire and drought. Along with these challenges, however, come opportunities to innovate and become more resilient.
“I am excited to join my 1,500 new teammates at DNR to meet these challenges and make our environment and economies stronger for our state’s present and future generations.”
The new commissioner will work immediately to improve the health of Washington’s forests and protect them by adequately training and equipping wildland firefighters.
“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. It is absolutely critical that we prioritize improving the health of our forests and our wildfire response,” she said.
A life on the landscape
Prior to being elected Commissioner, Franz was executive director of Futurewise, an organization committed to implementing smart, sustainable land use and transportation policies. In this role, she brought together local governments, non-profit organizations and citizen groups to blend land use with environmental protection and stronger local economies.
She served four years on the Bainbridge Island city council, where she developed nationally-recognized environmental and energy policies and programs with diverse coalitions of public and private stakeholders.
In addition, Franz has served on numerous state and regional boards and commissions, working to strengthen and protect both the environment and local economies.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a juris doctor from Northeastern University Law School.
Commissioner Franz is married with three sons.