Department of Natural Resources’ projected timber sales up in Clallam County, officials say

Revenue forecast is showing increase of $2.68 million for the year.

Bill Peach

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s projected timber revenue is up $2.68 million for the year, state Department of Natural Resources officials said this week.

The 93,311 acres of DNR-managed trust lands in Clallam County generated $3.12 million in revenue in the first half of 2016, officials said.

Based on current contracts, those forests are projected to generate $10.27 million by year’s end, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a letter to county commissioners.

Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach, who also serves on the state Board of Natural Resources, reported Tuesday that DNR’s financial performance has been “solid.”

“They’re up 25 percent for their performance during the calendar year 2016,” Peach announced in Tuesday’s business meeting.

“That represents $2.6 million, and about 13 percent of that comes to the county.”

Revenue from timber sales benefits the county and junior taxing districts such as schools, hospitals, libraries and fire districts.

One of the reasons for DNR’s recent success is an increase in the sale of individual products, or sorts, Peach said.

“The DNR hires the logger, then the logger actually manufactures logs according to a public bid,” Peach said in a Wednesday interview.

“The purchaser knows exactly what they’re getting.”

Sort sales have resulted in better prices for DNR and a “very noticeable” increase in return to trust beneficiaries, Peach said.

DNR is also “catching up” with arrearage, the timber that was supposed to be sold and wasn’t sold in the past decade, Peach said.

“Their annual cut is 87 1/2 million [board] feet for the entire Olympic Region,” Peach said.

“In 2015, if you look at the data they provide, they were off by some 30 million feet.

“In 2016, they’re going to be up by 7 million feet,” he added.

“But what’s really important is that in 2017, they’re going to catch up.”

To balance out arrearage, DNR would have to sell an additional 23 million board feet of Clallam County timber in 2017.

“Right now, looking at the contracts that they have in place, I see there’s a real high probability that they’ll make that happen,” Peach told his fellow commissioners Tuesday.

Peach, who represents western county District 3, said he was “pretty bullish” that Clallam County timber revenues would exceed projections for 2016.

“And we’ve got some good information for the 2017 budget, and it also looks pretty good,” he added.

Peach represents nearly two dozen timber counties on the six-member Board of Natural Resources, which sets policies that guide DNR resource management.

He received a Monday briefing from DNR officials on timber harvests in Clallam County.

The quarterly report was delivered by DNR state lands assistant Drew Rosanbalm and new DNR Olympic Region Manager Mona Grizwold.

“My plan, and my district manager’s plan, is to be back on target with our deliverable by the end of ‘17,” Rosanbalm said.

“And they have worked very hard to get there in the last year and a half.”

Said Peach: “We really do appreciate it.”

The state Board of Natural Resources will gather in Olympia on Tuesday to discuss six options for the protection of the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests.

One of the options being considered would take an additional 151,000 acres of state-managed forests out of production, reducing the total from 734,000 acres to 583,000 acres.

At Peach’s request, DNR staff prepared a county-by-county breakdown of the impacts of each of the six options for the murrelet.

“In all of the options, Clallam County isn’t hit that bad compared to some of the other counties,” Peach said.

The decision on the marbled murrelet will be used in a new sustainable harvest calculation, or “cut level,” for the future, Rosanbalm said.

Arrearage in the past decade was blamed in part for the closure of several Clallam County mills.

DNR officials have said recession-era staff reductions and protections for murrelets and riparian areas were the main reasons why the agency failed to sell 92 million board feet of Clallam County timber that was supposed to be sold from 2005 to 2014.

The elected Charter Review Commission voted 10-4 last year to recommend a Trust Lands Advisory Committee to study arrearage and determine whether Clallam County should reclaim the management of its forest trust lands.

The committee voted 14-1 against reconveyance in June.

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

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