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State timber harvest moratorium sought on Puget Sound's saltwater islands

"South Whidbey residents are circulating a petition they hope will result in a moratorium on harvesting trees from public lands on Puget Sound's saltwater islands.It's a hurried effort. Petitions went out to local businesses and by e-mail last week, and plans are to turn them in next Tuesday when the Board of Natural Resources meets in Olympia.The petition effort stems from recent concerns that the Department of Natural Resources is planning to harvest trees on hundreds of acres of state-owned land near Langley called Goss Lake/Section 32. The land is heavily used for recreation purposes.The DNR has stated that any logging plans will go through a public process before being implemented, but South Whidbey activists are trying to stop any possible harvest during a five year moratorium period.Beyond that, petition organizers believe other Puget Sound islands are similarly threatened by DNR tree harvesting.This is a bigger issue than just us, said Kirk Francis. Money from the harvest is used to fund public school construction.Here are the five points stated in the petition:1. The DNR timberlands are unique and cannot be reclaimed once they are lost.2. Forest lands are one of the largest contributors of recharge on saltwater islands, which by their nature suffer from saltwater intrusion.3. The best use of forest land cannot be determined by just an inventory of board feet but must include scenic and recreational uses in the equation.4. Tourism to Washington State will be greatly harmed by the loss of island forest lands.5. There is no urgency to harvest these forests in the immediate future. A moratorium of five years would allow for evaluation of the valuable facets that make these forests the emerald of the Evergreen State.Lynae Slinden, one of the petition circulations, said they have been placed in many area businesses and the Langley Chamber of Commerce office. The Whidbey Environmental Action Network is helping with an e-mail campaign, and Save the Woods on Saratoga members are behind the effort.We don't have very much time at all, Slinden said, so we decided to go high-tech with our petitioning.Petitioners hope the moratorium proposal can be acted upon quickly to stop any immediate harvest plans on Whidbey, in the San Juans, and elsewhere in Puget Sound. First put on the brakes -- then take off the blinders, Slinden said.Supporters anticipate support from 10th District legislators. On the Langley forest issue, Reps. Kelly Barlean, R-Langley, and Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, are working on an effort to spare that timber from the saw. And Slinden said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, is working with the DNR on other approaches to solve such problems. Congressman Jack Metcalf, whose family owns land next to the DNR property that is also used by recreationalists, has also inquired about the DNR's plans, Slinden said.About the boardThe state Board of Natural Resources is charged with establishing public policy related to management and disposition of trust land resources, including the DNR timber land near Langley.Members include statewide elected officials Governor Gary Locke, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Terry Bergeson, and Commissioner of Public Lands Jennifer Belcher. Also on the board are David Thorud, dean, College of Forest Research, U.W.; James Zuiches, dean, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, W.S.U.; and Bob Paylor, Gray Harbor County commissioner."

Community Events, April 2014

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