Sutherland, Hargrove and county commissioners speak about logging, the GMA and other topics at NOTAC meeting

By Sue Forde and Lois K. Perry

Port Angeles, WA – On Dec. 21, 2000, President Harry Bell of NOTAC (North Olympic Timber Action Committee), a local grassroots organization celebrating its 15th year, introduced guest speakers focused on the timber industry.

Ryan Kent-Smith, NOTAC’s executive director and organizer of the event, stressed that NOTAC’s message is that “trees are good” as a form of agricultural.  Throughout the evening, he explained various functions of the organization, including education, networking, and the issuance of the first annual Harriette Buchmann Scholarship.  The new scholarship fund is named in honor of the first president of the organization, who explained that the group has worked hard for education.  “The worry about de-nuding the mountains” isn’t limited to the Seattle area, she said.  We have work to do here, too.  She is from a logging family in Forks.  Matthew Boushey of Sequim, WA was the first recipient of the scholarship.

Newly elected Clallam County commissioner Mike Chapman (R) said he won a campaign for property rights, when voters cast a 59% decision in his favor.  “I have thrown my support behind NOTAC,” he said, and am for pro-economic growth.  He said he wants to work to solve the unemployment issue.  He takes office on Jan. 2, 2001.

State Senator Jim Hargrove (D), who was involved with the state Forest and Fish Plan, said he used his leverage in the Democratic Party for protection of small landowners.  He serves on the forestry task force for the Northwest Region, which is timber-oriented.  He expressed that the problems caused by the federal government “don’t make sense.  The no-cut policies are ruining the environment.”  He said he had taken Congressman Adam Smith, a “moderate-to-liberal”, to Eastern Washington to show him what was going on there, and met with approximately 35 forest service employees.  They had been given the goal to return the forest to “pre-settlement” conditions, and they expressed that they “couldn’t do it.” 

“The future of forestry is not growing hemp,” Hargrove stated, saying that was the direction environmentalists want to take.  He doesn’t see any radical changes coming, but wants to get back to “multiple use” for the forests. 

In response to a later question about the Shorelines Management Act and Growth Management Act (GMA), Hargrove said he was “apoplectic” when the DOE (Dept. of Ecology) adopted the regulations regardless of overwhelming opposition.  “Counties couldn’t pay to put them in place,” he said.  There are “significant efforts being made to pass legislation to get exemptions to rural areas.”

State Senator Tim Sheldon (D) serves on the Natural Resources Committee.  His family has owned timber property since 1939.  He said his dad used to call clear-cut “sun meadows”, which allowed a place for the nurture of young trees, as well as a place for small animals to flourish.  “Forest products have endured 10 years of a blast; forest products and what they produce have been undermined,” he said.  “The retail economy is helped by the forest products industry; it creates new jobs.”  He stated that a good stable workforce is found more in the rural areas than in the urban area where there’s a lot of turnover.  “The bottom line is finding new ways to work that don’t deal in forestry,” he added. He gave an example of a submarine that was designed in the Shelton area.  The people who designed it took the design to Europe and obtained an order to build one.  They are now employing more people in the Shelton area to do so.

Sheldon said he voted for George W. Bush.  “Olympia faces a challenging year,” he said.  The House is evenly split 49-49, and the Senate is split 25-24.  These houses are split between the rural and urban areas.  He said Maria Cantwell won only 5 counties in the entire state.  “This is an issue between rural and urban,” he said. “Forty-four percent of all jobs are held in King County; it also houses 1/3 the population of the state.” 

He shared the story of the light rail tunnel under the Ship Canal Bridge.  “They ran into sand, and it will now be 220 feet below the surface.”  It’s taking a $100 million to build this so far, he said.

In response to a later question regarding the Shorelines Management Act, Sheldon wondered if enough votes could be obtained for a veto override.  About the GMA, he suggested that changes are coming because of the soccer moms and dads input from the Seattle area. (They had attempted to build a soccer field, and were stopped because of the Act.)  “The GMA (Growth Management Act) will never go away,” he said, “but [perhaps] we could find some flexibility.”

Recently re-elected Jefferson County Commissioner Glen Huntingford (R), serves on the Board of Natural Resources. We have to educate people about ‘good science’, he stated.  He shared his conversation with an airline stewardess who made the statement that is was so sad that when the trees were cut down, they don’t grow back.  “Trees do grow back,” he said.  “How do we teach the country this?”  He also told the story of his second grade son who came home from school one day with a drawing of a dead stump.  “What’s this?” he queried.  His son said that it was a dead tree, and because the loggers were cutting down all the trees, there would be no air for his parents to breathe anymore.  Angered, he went to the school principal, only to learn that this type of curriculum was quite common in the school.  He’s working for education about the truth of timber as a renewable resource, he said.

Huntingford talked about “green certification”, and said he didn’t see how it would benefit Washington state.  There was never enough information furnished about organic farming for the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) to look into the subject sufficiently he said.  What standards do we have to meet for this?  The program calls for far more from DNR land that from private landowners, and includes commercial thinning.  He questioned how a market would be created for the products.  “All would have to go into the program, or nothing,” according to the terms, said Huntingford.  Regulatory authority would have to meet local, state and federal laws, plus national treaties.  “It would make us subject to international law,” he said.

In response to a later question about the Shorelines Act rules, he said it’s an unfunded mandate on the counties.  “It will cost $20,000 just for mapping,” in our county, he said.  “We can’t afford to do this.  Counties don’t have deep enough pockets to do this.”  He said that commercial zones can never expand until they are designated as UGAs (little cities).”

Keynote speaker Doug Sutherland (R)  newly elected State Lands Commissioner, won 36 out of 39 counties.  He formerly served as Pierce County Executive.  "We plan to run the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with a positive balance," he stated.  "It is my intention to make as many good decision as we can.  Changes are important.  There are 15 to 20 billion dollars worth of assets that we are supposed to manage, preserve, and protect, and to perpetuity, make it work.  We are talking about stewardship of these resources."

Sutherland said he believes in delegation.  Good education is important to him so he can make “really good decisions.”

Sutherland spoke of the “stewardship” of the resources.  He sees two basic issues: land and aquatics.  He wants to elevate the importance of aquatics by separating these into two departments.  He has appointed a new “Land Steward”, Bruce Mackey, a state forester who is recognized nationally, he said.  The new “Aquatics Steward” will be Fran McNair. 

“How do you separate regulatory from the management side?” Sutherland queried.  He has appointed Bonnie Bunning as the director of policy and general administration, and will appoint someone on the regulatory side soon.

Regarding “green certification” (GC), he said that “someday there will be a market for GC wood”; meanwhile, certification and value added is “already there” with the HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan) (See Helen Chenoweth on HCP's - click here) and other plans in place. He said the major corporations are pushing Green Certification, and wondered if any actually had GC wood in stock. (see story about Green Certification - click here)

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