Opponents of a plan to sell the rights to log some 140 acres in nearby parts of the Capitol State Forest are set to gather on the Capitol main campus on Tue., Nov. 16 at 9 a.m.
The area is some 15-20 miles southwest of Olympia in the Capitol State Forest near Kennedy Creek, west of Summit Lake and south of State Route 8, an area said by the Center for Responsible Forestry (CfRP) to contain popular hiking and biking trails. The nonprofit CfRP advocates for the conservation of older forests in western Washington.
The so-called “Crush Timber Sale” auction is set to start at 10 a.m. Nov. 16. The trees covered by the proposed sale are on five parcels. Of the estimated 6.15 million board feet of wood estimated to be included in the proposed sale, 68 percent is Douglas Fir. The remaining four species are Red Alder, Hemlock, Maple and Red Cedar.
The state expects to raise a minimum of $2,726,900 from a sale, including mandatory fees, according to the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Timber Notice of Sale document. The DNR, in its document, says that “This sale is certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® program Standard … and FSC 100% raw materials under the Forest Stewardship Council® Standard.
Opposition to the sale
The CfRP submitted a petition, on Fri., Nov. 12, with more than 400 names on it, to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz seeking to stop the sale. It states, “Many of the dominant trees in this timber sale measure over 4 feet in diameter and are close to 200 feet tall. Because these forests were often selectively logged or "high-graded" in the early 1900's, and allowed to grow back on their own, they are also much more structurally and biologically diverse.”
The DNR says that the Douglas Fir trees have an average diameter of 27 inches, Red Alder 15 inches and Western Hemlock 14 inches.
At dispute is the age of the trees and whether they are eligible to be harvested. The DNR says they are were planted recently enough to not qualify as sufficiently old to be protected. At the heart of CfRP’s petition is that the forests are old, diverse and naturally occurring so worth saving.
The forest as a tool to minimize climate change
Among those opposed to the sale is Peter Goldmark, who served as Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands from 2008-16. He told The JOLT that during his tenure, “with a few exceptions we did not cut older forests.” He added “Our older legacy forests are of tremendous historical and ecological value to the people of the state of Washington, not to mention the value of the carbon they store.”
“Douglas fir, Western red cedar, hemlock are all long-lived trees and collect enormous amounts of carbon dioxide,” Goldmark said, adding, “How do you beat that for a way to combat climate change?”
What’s special about the Crush parcels?
Stephen Kropp, Executive Director of CfRP, says that what’s special about the land contained in the proposed Crush sale are two things, first, “This is native, legacy forest. Never been sprayed with herbicides Never been planted. It’s one of the few remaining large packages of unplanned nonindustrial forest that includes riparian and upland forest.” Second, he said, “most notable thing is the area includes the only single-track biking trail in the state. Only bicycles, motor bikes and hiking are allowed.” In other words, no quads allowed.
One reader of The JOLT, L. Riner of Olympia, commented, “We told [the Commissioner of Public Lands office] how we have been hiking there for 40 years, it is so close to Olympia. It is wonderful.”
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