Chapman, Roth debate wilderness plan

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman issued a public apology this week for the way in which the board of commissioners supported an early version of the proposed Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012.

Chapman, 48, an independent running for a fourth four-year term, apologized at Monday’s Concerned Citizens of Clallam County debate with challenger Maggie Roth, 58, a Republican, at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club.

Chapman defeated Roth’s husband, Terry, in 2008.

The plan supported by the commissioners contained a willing-buyer, willing-seller provision that would have let Olympic National Park absorb private land if the land owners agreed to sell their property.

In a February 2010 letter to U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, Chapman, fellow Commissioner Mike Doherty and then-Commissioner Steve Tharinger urged Dicks to support the proposal.

It was discussed as part of the board’s consent agenda rather than as a regular agenda item, which Chapman said in an interview Tuesday would have been more open to public comment.

The board’s approval should have had a more “open public meeting process,” Chapman told a crowd of about 90 Monday night.

“I apologize,” he said.

“That’s not good enough,” shouted one man as the crowd in the gym audibly murmured.

Roth, who was operations manager for the Northwest Duty Free store before she retired, said the commissioners’ support for the plan “told me that they are not interested in what economic development is in this community.

“People who manage the forest for the private sector do a very good job,” she said.

The willing-buyer, willing-seller provision was discarded in a newer version of the proposal unveiled this year by Dicks and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell.

The new plan designates more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness — thus off-limits to logging — and names 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their major tributaries as “wild and scenic.”

Murray and Dicks said they made compromises to overcome objections that the designations would restrict logging.

Proponents of the plan said the terrain of the newly designated wilderness is largely unloggable.

Opponents have stressed they want “no net loss of working forests,” the refrain of the North Olympic Timber Action Committee, a Port Angeles-based forest industry group.

The Port Angeles Business Association opposed the plan.

But the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce “is comfortable with where the compromise is that was proposed by the legislators,” Executive Director Russ Veenema said Tuesday.

Chapman, a former Republican, told the Sequim audience that the county and Port of Port Angeles will be doing an economic study to gauge the new plan’s impact on the economy.

He also said that “we’re not even close” to meeting harvest levels under the existing Northwest Forest Plan.

Roth criticized the state Department of Ecology’s proposed water management rule for the Dungeness Valley, which would affect the eastern half of Water Resource Inventory Area 18 from Bagley Creek to Sequim Bay.

The rule would require metering of new wells, set minimum flows in the river, create a water exchange and require the owner of new wells to mitigate his or her use of water by purchasing credits.

“Ecology has too much control,” Roth said.

“Every time you turn around, they are putting limitations on what we can do with our county and with our property.”

Chapman said current water rights should be defended and that there must be enough water available for future development.

The two also disagree on term limits.

“There are term limits,” Chapman said. “They’re called elections.”

Roth said when people are in office too long, they “have a tendency to forget who put them in office.

“Term limits would be a good situation,” she said.

She also criticized Chapman for promising to come forward with a proposal to increase the sales tax by two-tenths of 1 percent to fund cash-strapped law-and-justice expenditures.

Chapman replied that commissioners had produced a balanced budget without seeking new taxes.

“If that’s the worst thing I’ve done in office, I guess I’m doing OK,” Chapman said.

Monday’s hourlong event marked the third time this campaign season that Roth and Chapman have debated.

Ballots will be mailed to voters three weeks from today and must be postmarked or returned to county courthouses by Nov. 6, Election Day.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 25. 2012 5:57PM
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