Jefferson County considers carbon offset program

Commissioners to meet with DNR officials

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners are considering asking to be added into the state’s new carbon offset program and will likely make the request at a November meeting.

“We are likely to ask for inclusion of some Jefferson County trust lands into the state’s carbon program,” Commissioner Kate Dean said Thursday.

State Department of Natural Resources officials will have a meeting with Jefferson County Commissioners on Nov. 7, when the subject will be discussed, Dean said.

In April, Hilary Franz, state Commissioner of Public Lands, announced the launch of what she said was the first-of-its-kind carbon project on state lands. The project committed to set aside 10,000 acres of state lands for conservation and carbon sequestration, and to generate revenue for state trust land beneficiaries through carbon markets.

At that time, the agency had identified the first 2,500 acres of forests to be set aside. Since then, agency staff identified a candidate pool of parcels for the remaining 7,500 acres.

The state now seeks input on the potential parcels as it narrows them down to a final selection. A survey is available online that will close on Nov. 18. To register, find the survey and more information, see the DNR webpage at www.dnr.wa.gov/carbonoutreach.

Carbon offset programs allow companies that produce pollutants to pay to conserve lands or promote other environmental projects to offset the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.

The leases won’t produce as much money as a timber harvest would, Dean said, but it may provide a stable source of revenue where timber sales are more intermittent.

Previous estimates have found the county’s carbon sales would generate about a tenth of what a timber sale would, Dean said.

“We’re not suggesting that all harvest be eliminated,” Dean said. “We want to explore other management systems that provide revenue and provide a more consistent revenue source.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at psegall@soundpublishing.com.

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