State Board of Natural Resources to talk timber harvests Monday

The six-member panel will tackle the issue of impacts of riparian harvests on the 10-year sustainable harvest calculation at its special meeting in Olympia.

OLYMPIA — The state Board of Natural Resources on Monday will tackle the last of three key issues that will help shape timber harvests on state trust lands for the next decade.

The six-member board, which sets policies that guide state Department of Natural Resources forest land management, will study the impacts of riparian harvests on the 10-year sustainable harvest calculation in a special meeting in Olympia.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St.

A sustainable harvest calculation is the amount of timber that can be logged on state trust lands in a given decade.

The 10-year target is designed to protect the environment while meeting DNR’s trust mandate to generate revenue for trust beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries include public schools and universities, timber counties and junior taxing districts such as hospitals and fire departments.

The Board of Natural Resources was briefed Sept. 6 on proposed conservation strategies for the marbled murrelet, a small, threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests.

Board members were briefed Oct. 4 on the impacts of arrearage, the variance between the authorized sale and the amount of timber that was actually sold.

The special meeting on Monday will deal with a third key issue in establishing the next sustainable harvest calculation. Riparian zones are ribbons of vegetation along rivers and streams with different types of buffers to protect water quality and fish habitat.

Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach, who represents timber counties on the DNR board, said he did not expect board action Monday.

“The board wants to look at these three key issues independently, understand them, then take a look at when to put it all together,” Peach said Friday.

The DNR board will have two meetings in November to gather additional information and to make decisions on the murrelet conservation strategy, arrearage and riparian harvests, Peach said.

The board intends to release a draft environmental impact statement on the next sustainable harvest calculation by the end of this year.

“We’ll take a position on it by Dec. 31,” Peach told his fellow county commissioners last Tuesday.

“Then that will go into the public arena for comment.”

Members of the public will have 90 days to comment on the environmental impact statement. Those comments will be incorporated into a final draft for the board to approve, most likely in June, Peach said.

DNR manages 93,311 acres of trust lands in Clallam County and 5.6 million acres of trust lands and aquatic areas statewide.

The agency failed to sell 92 million board feet of Clallam County timber that was supposed to be sold from 2005 to 2014, officials said.

Protections for marbled murrelets and riparian zones, associated lawsuits and recession-era staff shortages contributed to that arrearage, DNR officials have said.

Representatives of the timber industry said arrearage contributed to the 2014 closure of the Interfor sawmill in Beaver, Interfor planer mill in Forks, Green Creek mill in west Port Angeles and the 2015 closure of the Allen Logging Co. mill in west Jefferson County.

Peach, a retired Rayonier regional manager, has said DNR has done a good job “catching up” with the shortage in Clallam County and should be back on track by 2017.

The Board of Natural Resources is grappling with two numbers for the total arrearage that occurred in Western Washington between 2005 and 2014.

Counties that were undercut in the last cycle, including Clallam and Jefferson, had a combined 702 million board feet of arrearage, DNR Deputy Supervisor for State Uplands Kyle Blum said in a slide presentation.

By adding certain counties on the Interstate 5 corridor that were overcut, the net arrearage was 462 million board feet.

The board must decide whether to roll the 2005-14 arrearage into the next sustainable harvest calculation or to offer it up for sale in one year, five years or 10 years.

Because of DNR’s trust mandate, Peach said the board has a responsibility to “maintain undivided loyalty to the beneficiaries.”

Meanwhile, each of the six proposed protections for the marbled murrelet would have a minimal impact on Clallam County because of pre-existing protections for the northern spotted owl, Peach has said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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