Cancellation of Power Plant sale celebrated

Supporters say they still need more protection

State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, speaks Sunday at a gathering that celebrated the cancellation of the Power Plant sale. (John Gussman)

State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, speaks Sunday at a gathering that celebrated the cancellation of the Power Plant sale. (John Gussman)

PORT ANGELES — More than 50 people gathered at a parking area on Colville Road to celebrate the cancellation of the 126-acre Power Plant timber sale that had been the subject of broad opposition.

“We had a great turnout,” said Elizabeth Dunne, director of legal advocacy for the Earth Law Center in Seattle. “The celebration wasn’t super long. We really were there to give people a chance to celebrate and see the forest that will be protected and raise awareness of the risk other watersheds still face.”

On. Dec. 18, State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz publicly announced the cancellation of the Power Plant timber sale totaling 126 acres located in the Elwha River basin 7 miles west of Port Angeles. A total of 69 acres were nominated for permanent conservation while the future of the other 57 acres remains unclear.

The public gathering was conducted on Sunday.

“I was incredibly happy and it was great to celebrate with all of them,” Dunne said. “But we still need additional protection for the remaining acres.”

In addition to Dunne, other speakers were state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, 2016 Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Bryant of Seattle, and Port Angeles City Council members LaTrisha Suggs, Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and Navarra Carr.

The group is informally known as the Elwha Legacy Forests coalition (elwhalegacyforests.org).

Dunne said one notable supporter was Bryant, who wrote a couple of op-ed pieces for The (Tacoma) News Tribune aligning with what the coalition is saying collectively about not logging in the Elwha watershed.

“It was great to see so much support from our allies, state representatives and local leaders,” Dunne said. “We need to protect the remaining part of the sale and the older part of the watershed.”

The 57 acres of the Power Plant sale that remain unprotected, along with about 600 more acres of older forest in the Elwha watershed, are included in the City of Port Angeles’ Elwha Watershed Protection Project under the state Department of Natural Resources’ trust land transfer program.

On Sept. 30, the City of Port Angeles filed an application to transfer 3,089 acres of state forest lands in the Elwha River watershed, including the 57 acres of the Power Plant sale, from DNR’s industrial forest management and into protected status for drinking water protection, habitat restoration and climate resilience.

Dunne said one thing DNR looks at when reviewing applications is community support, and Port Angeles’ application has received 4,600 emails that back the proposal.

Port Angeles’ application can be viewed at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/support-the-elwha-watershed-protection-project-trust-land-transfer?source=direct_link&.

“We still have more work to do and I’m excited to work together to make happen,” Dunne said.

________

Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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