Department of Natural Resources offers draft plans for comment on harvest, seabird

PORT ANGELES — The state Department of Natural Resources has released draft environmental impact statements on the agency’s 10-year sustainable harvest calculation and its marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy.

Public comment will be taken until 5 p.m. March 9 on both documents, DNR spokesman Bob Redling said.

Public meetings and webinars are planned next month.

The 160-page sustainable harvest draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, and instructions for submitting public comments are available at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/shc.

The 600-page marbled murrelet draft EIS and instructions for submitting public comments are available at www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs.

DNR has scheduled four public meetings on the marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy and sustainable harvest calculation in January.

One meeting will be held at Port Angeles High School at 6 p.m. Jan. 17. Other meetings will be held in Sedro-Woolley, Seattle and Cathlamet.

DNR will host a webinar on the proposed murrelet protections from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 24. Login information will be posted at www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs.

A webinar on the sustainable harvest calculation will be from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 26. Login information will be posted at www.dnr.wa.gov/shc.

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

The marbled murrelet is a small, threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests. Its conservation will affect timber harvests within 55 miles of marine shorelines, Redling said.

Each of the options being considered for marbled murrelet protection would have a minimal impact on the North Olympic Peninsula because of pre-existing protections for the northern spotted owl, Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach said.

Peach also represents 21 timber counties on the state Board of Natural Resources, which is expected to approve a final draft of both documents next summer.

“The comments from the public will play a big role in this on how the final draft looks,” Redling said.

After public comments are gathered and a final environment impact statement is issued, policies will go before the state Board of Natural Resources for final action.

The draft sustainable harvest calculation lists five alternatives for arrearage. Arrearage is the timber that was identified for sale but wasn’t sold from 2005 to 2014.

“The real issue is going to be the decision with regard to arrearage, because Clallam County had the highest arrearage of any county,” Peach said in a Wednesday interview.

“The options are to have zero, 50 [percent] to 60 percent or to have 100 percent.”

Clallam County had 92 million board feet of arrearage in the past decade, according to DNR.

Counties that were undercut had a combined arrearage of 702 million board feet.

By adding the amount of timber that was overcut in other counties, the net shortfall was 462 million board feet.

One option under consideration assumes no harvest of the arrearage.

Other options would incorporate 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.

“People want to know how the arrearage is going to be handled,” Redling said.

Public comments on either document can be sent to the SEPA Center at http://[email protected] or SEPA Center, P.O. Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015.

File numbers should be included on comments.

For the sustainable harvest document, the file number is 15-012901. The subject line of email comments should include SEPA File No. 15-012901.

For the marbled murrelet document, the file number is 12-042001. The subject line of email comments should include SEPA File No. 12-042001.

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

Executive Editor Leah Leach added to this story.

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