LETTER: The costs of the land-use proposal involving Dabob Bay far outweigh the benefits

On Sept. 29, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposed adding 3,640 acres to the Dabob Bay Natural Area, encompassing a swath across the middle of the Toandos ­Peninsula.

This Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) would include lowland forest, riparian areas, wetlands, Thorndyke Bay estuary and “ecologically significant” shoreline. Also included are thousands of acres of DNR and Pope and Talbot forest, much recently clearcut, and seven gated communities.

In my experience, the public hearings required by law are treated as formalities.

The officials are not elected, and no public vote is ever taken, so the public has very few options to influence decisions despite their major financial and social impacts.

In this case, our tax money, including grants, DNR’s budget and an offer from the Navy, will pay for government salaries, technical and economic analyses, swaps between DNR and common school lands, market value purchase of private timberland and homes in the designated area, demolishing homes for shoreline restoration and reforesting to restore habitat and future harvest.

And tax income will be lost.

The state reimburses counties at open-space rates rather than residential rates now paid by landowners, a difference of $23 million to be shifted to remaining county taxpayers, according to a Jefferson County Assessor’s Office estimate, and ambiguous RCW language regarding NRCA uses could jeopardize future forest harvests on common school land to be located inside the NRCA.

Appallingly, no economic analysis has been completed by DNR.

As it stands, the costs of this proposal to Jefferson County taxpayers far outweigh the benefits.

Diane Johnson,


Johnson is a board member of the Port Hadlock-based Olympic Stewardship Foundation, a land-use watchdog that represents landowners.