Organizers: Rally to urge protection of old-growth forest

PORT ANGELES — A rally near an active timber harvest site containing old growth trees is set for noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Elwha River Observation Area.

People are asked to gather at the pull-off on the right side of U.S. Highway 101 just before the Elwha River bridge as one travels west.

The rally near the Aldwell harvest site is to urge protection of older forests in and around the Elwha River watershed and to call on Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz to stop state Department of Natural Resources logging in the Elwha River Watershed, said organizers Elizabeth Dunne of the Earth Law Center, and Brel Froebe of the Center for Responsible Forestry, in a press release.

“At least 50 percent of Aldwell could still be saved if Commissioner Franz directed the harvest to stop,” the release said.

Also sponsoring the rally is the Olympic Forest Coalition.

The Aldwell timber sale contains over 90 acres of older, structurally complex forest — with trees 100-150 years old and older, the groups said. It is visible near the U.S. Highway 101 intersection with Olympic Hot Springs Road and at Madison Falls, organizers said.

The groups are not opposed to all logging, Dunne said Friday.

The rally “focuses on protection of the health of the watershed for drinking water and salmon habitat, and the protection of old-growth trees and legacy forests,” Dunne said.

The Port Angeles City Council in September and in May last year requested DNR delay the harvest to allow the city and neighboring tribes — The Lower Elwha Klallam and the Jamestown S’Klallam — to review ramifications.

“If your office approves the sale of this legacy timber, the timber will go to auction,” said the letter dated Sept. 29.

“This action will be the demise of a valuable legacy forest on the Olympic Peninsula.”

Although the site is outside city limits, it does affect the town’s water supply, officials said in the letter.

“As a City we must have ample time to review the long-term impacts to our local water supply and the watershed that contributes to it.

In addition, the letter said, “the federal government spent millions on restoration work during dam removal and re-establishing the Elwha River Watershed and therefore we must be diligent with decision making in this area.”

More information is at https://adventure

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