Timber sales to provide $7.3 million in Clallam County; state official tells of errors

PORT ANGELES — Timber sales will generate about $7.3 million for Clallam County and its junior taxing districts in 2016, state officials projected.

The state Department of Natural Resources manages 93,311 acres of forest trust lands in the county, which generated $5 million in the first three quarters of this year and $1.9 million since September, DNR lands assistant Drew Rosanbalm told Clallam County commissioners Monday.

“This month was a pretty darn good month for us,” Rosanbalm said in a quarterly report to the board.

DNR’s first-quarter projection for annual timber sales in Clallam County was $7.5 million.

“That’s about where we’re going to end,” Rosanbalm said.

Rosanbalm told commissioners that an Oct. 27 projection of $5.31 million was skewed by a spreadsheet error.

Specifically, two active sales were omitted from the list, he said.

“I knew as soon as I saw the letter that something was wrong,” Commissioner Bill Peach said after the briefing.

“I was glad they were able to point quickly to what the error was.”

Similarly, a September revenue projection of $10.27 million was thrown off by a mistake on a spreadsheet, Rosanbalm said.

Rosanbalm told commissioners that he would double-check the data in the future.

“I’ll get eyes on it before it ever comes to you guys, get a chance to find any errors and then get them fixed before it goes out to the counties,” Rosanbalm said.

“So I apologize for that. This time it was on me, but we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Peach, a retired forester who represents 21 timber counties on the state Board of Natural Resources, requested data from DNR to prepare his own financial forecasts.

He said he would share the information with county Treasurer Selinda Barkhuis and county Administrator Jim Jones if there are large disparities between the DNR projections and his estimates.

Revenue from DNR timber sales is funneled to counties, public schools and universities, and junior taxing districts such as fire departments and hospitals.

Clallam County receives about 15 percent of the revenue generated on state trust lands within its boundaries. The money goes to the county Road Department and general fund for day-to-day operations.

Jones said the county is budgeting $1.2 million in revenue from timber sales in 2017, up from $900,000 budgeted this year.

The county will finish this year with about $950,000 in timber revenue, Jones said.

“We are expecting a little bit of an uptick,” Peach said.

About $5 million worth of Clallam County timber is already on the auction block for the first half of 2017, Rosanbalm said. He added that his field staff is “months ahead of the curve.”

“I’m optimistic we’re going to keep going,” Rosanbalm said.

“I really couldn’t tell you for sure what happened, but everybody’s really motivated.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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