OLYMPIA – Colville-based Vaagen Brothers Timber Company won the bid on the first Good Neighbor Authority restoration timber harvest.

The state Department of Natural Resources awarded the bid Tuesday on the 604-acre Block of Nine project in the Colville National Forest aimed at reducing hazardous timber overgrowth.

“This project is a great example of the partnerships we will need to address the forest health crisis that has filled Washington’s skies with wildfire smoke the past couple of summers. Wildfire doesn’t care about who owns the forestland; neither can our restoration efforts,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said. “With this sale, we are taking a big step toward the goals laid out in our 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan that will make our communities safer from wildfire and forests more productive.”

Franz signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement with the U.S. Forest Service in March of last year authorizing DNR to conduct forest, watershed and rangeland restoration projects on federal land.

This project, known as the Block of Nine, will use mechanical thinning. The sale of the estimated 5.8 million board feet of timber will generate more than $1.5 million in the economy, according to a press release.

Revenue from the timber sale will be used to fund further restoration projects within the Colville National Forest.

The Block of Nine was recently threatened by the 458-acre Sheep Creek fire that started a quarter of a mile away.

“We have followed the authority since its inception and are excited to be a part of it,” said Josh Anderson of Vaagen Bros. “We loved seeing Commissioner Franz embrace this new opportunity and work with the Forest Service to restore fire-prone forests on the east side of the state.”