Boy Scouts ready to submit logging application - Neighbors maintain plan calls for too much cutting
Pulali Point homeowners and the Boy Scouts of America continue to have opposing ideas about how best to use and preserve Camp Parsons.
The Chief Seattle Council recently approved plans to log portions of the 400-acre Scout camp located north of Brinnon along Hood Canal. Mark Hunter, director of administration for the Chief Seattle Council, said he is ready to file a forest practices application with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Hunter said the plans call for tree thinning and logging on 120 acres, much of it on Pulali Point.
"The permit addresses 120 acres. Of that, one-third will go through normal thinning because it's healthy forest, with up to 30 percent of the land thinned. One-third of the property will not be touched because of [environmental] buffers required by DNR or self-imposed," Hunter said. "The rest of the acreage has trees with laminated root rot disease, and we're going to address that because they're unsafe trees. In that area, up to 50 percent of the trees could be removed."
But neighbor and Pulali Point Landowners Association spokesperson Vivian Lutter said the Boy Scouts have failed to consider other alternatives. She also maintained that the council plans to plant the non-native white pine, a fast-growing tree.
"They're claiming they will reforest Pulali Point and it will be a learning experience for Scouts and future farmers, but they plan to reforest with white pine," Lutter said. "In my opinion, they're planning a tree farm."
Jefferson County Public Utility District has also expressed concern about the logging proposal. In a May 7 letter to the Chief Seattle Council, PUD Commission President Wayne King said the PUD was concerned with potential soil compaction, harm to the area's aquifer, and likelihood of increased landslide hazard. The PUD doesn't currently serve Pulali Point, and it has no current plans to install a public water system in the immediate area.
Hunter said the Scouts plan to transform Camp Parsons into an arboretum for its members, and no buildings will be constructed. He said trees infected with laminated root rot will need to be removed, and the disease has been found mostly in Douglas firs. He said he didn't know how many board feet would be harvested nor what its value would be, though he said any income from the logging would be reinvested at Camp Parsons.
"We're not afraid to say money will be realized from this project, and those monies will be put back into the same piece of property to develop an outdoor learning center and to reforest the area," Hunter said.
But Lutter said the Scouts already have a natural arboretum on Pulali Point with 300-year-old maple trees, old cedars and other trees.
"The Boy Scouts should be about preserving wilderness property for future Scouts - to leave it better than it is - and they're not doing that," Lutter said. "It's our position that if their executives are unable to raise funds through their membership and contributions, they need to reconsider the viability of the organization."
Lutter said her group has plans for a Pulali Point Jamboree on Saturday, June 7, at which attendees are invited to explore the natural environment of the area. She said supporters can sign the group's petition against the logging plans by going to its website: www.savepulali.org. The group also seeks donations which can be made through Pay Pal at the website or by sending a check to Save Pulali Landowners, P.O. Box 437, Brinnon, WA 98320.
The group also participated in a panel discussion about the proposed logging at the May 27 meeting of the Jefferson County Democratic Party. Also on the panel were Jefferson County Public Utility District geohydrologist Bill Graham and Dr. Olaf Ribeiro, a plant pathologist hired by the landowners. Ribiero said the root rot was naturally occurring, but not enough to justify the scale of logging proposed.
Hunter said that the Scouts organization has a written policy against clearcutting timber on any of its properties, so neighbors needn't fear they will see a scar similar to that present on a 40-acre portion of Camp Parsons which was clearcut in the late 1980s. He also said other parts of Camp Parsons have been logged over the years.
Hunter said logging would have to wait until September because Scouts begin using the camp in July and he doubted the state DNR would issue a forest practices permit sooner than that.
He also said the Scouts have addressed many of the neighbors' concerns prior to submitting the logging application because the DNR may also look at those issues.
"Because of the fact of the neighbors' concerns on this one, we've done a lot of research and studies prior to doing the work," Hunter said. "We have an eagle plan, and we've got management plans, hydrology reports and tree pathology reports. We feel it's a pretty good application that we're submitting."
Mark Rose, spokesperson for the Pulali Landowners Association and a Pulali Point resident, hopes the group's June 7 public tour will help fuel its effort to derail the logging plan.
"We refuse to become the latest victim of Boy Scouts of America's clandestine 'pre-emptive' logging," said Rose. "We hope that enough public pressure will force the Chief Seattle Council administrators to withdraw this destructive logging plan."
Connie Sallee, administrative assistant in the Forest Practices office for DNR's Olympic Region in Forks, said that when her agency reviews forest practices applications, they look at habitat, soil stability and other issues. If the logging is planned for unstable slopes, DNR often requires a geotechnical report.
"We don't totally deny an application if they can work around the issues that need to be addressed," Sallee said.
Sallee said that neighbors' opposition to a logging operation rarely, if ever, can effectively stop the operation.
"I haven't come across a situation where neighbors have completely stopped logging," Sallee said. "But they have been part of the review process. We also look at impacts on wells, and we try to mitigate those."
Lutter said the Pulali Point Landowners Association isn't totally against the Boy Scouts logging Camp Parsons, but hopes the organization will do it in a manner that preserves the natural environment.
"We're not against logging or selectively thinning and clearing dead trees," she said. "That's what we hope will come out of this."
The DNR has up to 45 days in which to approve a forest practices
application, though that's in extreme cases where large impacts are
apparent. Approval of a simple application in which no streams or
slopes are involved can take as little as five days, Sallee said.
Most applications take between 14 and 30 days to be approved.
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