Farm Bureau asks people to join rally against RMAPs
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
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
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
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
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
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.