Port of Port Angeles to eye study on Wild Olympics plan

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A study on opportunities for increased logging in Olympic National Forest and the economic impact of Wild Olympics legislation, which would ban logging on 198 square miles of the federal lands, will be presented to the three Port of Port Angeles commissioners during their regular meeting Monday.

The $24,000 study, conducted by Malus Partners, a Sequim consulting firm, will be presented at 10 a.m. in the meeting room at the port’s administrative headquarters, 338 W. First St.

The study, an updated version of a review of an earlier Wild Olympics proposal, is being funded with $16,500 from the port, $6,000 from Clallam County government and $1,500 from the city of Forks.

“It’s a valuable report because it looks at both the impacts and what opportunities may exist with increasing harvest levels,” port Executive Director Jeff Robb said last week.

The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012 was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell, and retiring 6th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, whose constituency area includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The legislation is a shrunken version of a proposal first introduced by the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Campaign that contained 132,000 acres designated as wilderness compared with the 126,544 in the new proposal.

The earlier proposal also contained a willing-buyer, willing-seller provision that could have expanded Olympic National Park boundaries, but it was eliminated altogether after objections from the forest industry.

Nineteen rivers and seven tributaries also would be declared wild and scenic under the legislation.

Review of impacts

Port commission President John Calhoun said Friday the new study also now includes a review of the legislation’s impacts on Grays Harbor and Kitsap counties as well as Clallam and Jefferson counties, both individually and as a single, four-county region.

“I don’t think [job losses] will be overwhelmingly significant” if Congress approves the legislation, Calhoun said.

“But that may not be the most important issue,” he added.

Calhoun said the Malus report will include a review of increasing harvest levels in Olympic National Forest that are consistent with the Northwest Forest Plan and that would include habitat restoration work but no clearcutting.

According to a September 2011 report, up to 72 jobs in the forest industry and up to $3.5 million in wages would have been lost in Clallam and Jefferson counties under the original Wild Olympics plan.

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

Last modified: November 24. 2012 5:32PM
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