DNR to help Clallam, other timber counties with economic study

Probe will look at marbled murrelet conservation

PORT ANGELES — The state Department of Natural Resources will help Clallam and other timber counties fund an economic study of the long-term conservation of the marbled murrelet.

Commissioners Randy Johnson and Bill Peach voted Tuesday — with Mark Ozias excused — to approve a $20,000 cost-sharing agreement with DNR to fund an economic study commissioned by the state Association of Counties.

“The purpose of this agreement is to allow the Department of Natural Resources to contribute to the total funding for this project,” said Peach, who also serves on the state Board of Natural Resources.

“We are contributing, I believe, $7,500, and the DNR is contributing $20,000.”

Johnson said the total cost of the study is $100,000.

Threatened species

The marbled murrelet is a threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests.

Several counties and junior taxing districts in Clallam County have sued the DNR over its recently-adopted 2015-2024 sustainable harvest calculation and long-term conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet.

Both documents affect timber harvests on state trust lands, which provide revenue for timber counties and their schools, fire departments and other junior taxing districts.

Both plans were approved by the state Board of Natural Resources Dec. 3. Peach voted no.

Environmental groups also have sued DNR over the sustainable harvest calculation and long-term conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet, saying the agency did not go far enough to protect state forests and threatened species.

The Association of Counties’ economic study will be performed by the Portland-based natural resource consulting firm Mason, Bruce & Girard.

“The county will solely be serving as an agent for DNR for the purchase of DNR’s share of the cost of this study of $20,000,” county officials said in an executive summary to the cost-sharing agreement.

According to the project proposal, Mason, Bruce & Girard will determine the change in revenue to each taxing district and the change in employment and income to each county as a result of the murrelet plan.

The consultant also will provide a financial model that can be used for future DNR proposals that affect timber harvests on state trust lands, the proposal says.

A final report will be published in July, according to the project timeline.

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

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