Farm Bureau asks people to join rally against RMAPs


By Bill Stevenson
Chronicle staff

Okanogan County commissioner Mary Lou Peterson addresses the crowd at a Farm Bureau meeting on road maintenance abandonment plans -Chronicle photo by Bill Stevenson

Supporters gathered Jan. 23 to ask people to rally against road maintenance and abandonment plans in Olympia during a state Senate hearing.
Hundreds filled the Okanogan County Agriplex at the fairgrounds to listen to Okanogan County Farm Bureau president Joel Kretz, Washington Farm Bureau president Mike Poulson and real estate representative Kathy Powers.

Speakers and supporters alike voiced their opposition to the state-required plans, known as RMAPs. The state Department of Natural Resources enforces RMAPs under the Forests and Fish Act.

“It's about rural cleansing. It is about regulating you off of your land,” Kretz said.

RMAPs require landowners whose property contains private roads and merchantable timber to submit a plan to DNR by 2005 detailing how and when roads will be upgraded or abandoned at landowners' expense.

Merchantable timber is defined as any trees that could be sold to cover the cost of harvest.

The regulations were adopted to prevent sediment runoff from private property into public waterways such as lakes and streams, and protect endangered fish such as steelhead and Chinook salmon, according to DNR officials. They also require that the roads do not block fish passage.

County and state farm bureaus are leading a grass roots opposition to RMAP requirements. Kretz said RMAPs are unfair because they place a financial burden on private landowners to install culverts and upgrade roads for the public benefit.

A University of Washington study indicated RMAPs could cost private landowners $375 million and the DNR $250 million to comply on state lands.

Since the announcement of RMAPs, the Farm Bureau has opposed enforcement and sought to work with the DNR to find a way to alleviate the cost burden from private landowners. In response, House Bill 1095 was proposed to amend RMAP problems.

“It is a classic example of a wolf in sheep's clothing,” said Kretz. “It's a real hard thing to follow.”

He said the proposed bill does nothing but lower the amount of paperwork for landowners. Kretz said there are no exemptions for parcels of less than 20 acres and the new bill would prohibit any business impact study concerning the costs of this bill.

Another concern is language concerning an RMAP checklist. Kretz said it is proposed to ease the burden for small landowners by giving a review of any roads on the timberland property.

“The checklist means you are committed to doing the whole program, not just looking over a checklist,” said Kretz. “The problem with that is we don't even know the whole checklist.”

He asked people to help oppose to the new legislation and keep pressure on until RMAP allows small timberland owners to avoid spending thousands of dollars for the state.

“Tonight I am here to ask you . . . to show up in Olympia and get this done,” Kretz said.

Kretz, Poulson and Powers asked people to continue writing state legislators, state agency officials and anyone who might listen to opposition. They also asked supporters to attend the Senate natural resources committee RMAP hearing Feb. 5.

Poulson asked people to write legislators, especially the ones serving on committees that oversee the legislation creating issues such as RMAPS.

He asked that people be courteous and not show their anger when writing.

Powers asked supporters to keep attending meetings on the issue.

“They don't like these big gatherings,” she said. “It makes them uncomfortable.”

Kretz said the Farm Bureau is helping to organize rides and possibly will arrange for buses to transport people willing to travel to the Senate hearing and oppose RMAPs.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site