Legislature OKs land purchase to settle suit over owl
The News Tribune
Olympia, WA - Lawmakers have agreed to spend $2.7 million to buy
232 acres of Klickitat County timberland to settle a lawsuit over
the nearly extinct northern spotted owl.
The money is part of the the $25 billion, two-year budget that the
Legislature passed on Thursday.
SDS Lumber Co. sued the state Department of Natural Resources after
department officials found an owl nest on the land and restricted
logging on the parcel near Trout Lake.
State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland agreed to purchase the SDS
property and settle the lawsuit more than a year ago, just before
the state Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the case. But the settlement
hinged on budgetary approval.
In May 2000, a Yakima County jury awarded SDS more than $2.2 million.
By the time of the settlement, interest on the award had increased
the state's obligation to more than $3 million.
The Washington Environmental Council, a coalition of environmental
groups, had opposed the settlement because leaders said it would set
a precedent for similar claims in the future and undermine state wildlife
Susan Gordon: 253-597-8756
(Published 12:01AM, June 10th, 2003)