Barlean forest bill fails in committee

"A Washington House bill that would have stopped any future tree cutting on a 600-acre, state-owned parcel of land near Goss Lake failed to make it out of the House's capital budget committee last week.The bill, authored by Rep. Kelly Barlean (R-Langley), would have used funds from the state's capital budget to purchase the land from the Department of Natural Resources. The bill would have also purchased a number of other pieces of DNR forest land to save them from logging, including two other Whidbey Island parcels. Any land purchased in Island County would have been turned over to the county. Barlean's office reported Wednesday that Barlean will try to insert all the language from the bill directly into the capital budget itself. If it does not pass there, Barlean said he would also consider reintroducing his bill under the authorship of Rep. Dave Anderson (D-Clinton). If neither method works to save the Goss Lake trees, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano) has her own solution. Haugen is asking that money be added to the capital budget to finance a 30-year lease of timber rights on the Goss Lake land, which would prevent the state Department of Natural Resources from cutting the trees.Haugen is also trying to get additional funds to transfer school trust land at Elger Bay on Camano Island to Island County. She got a portion of that money in last year's capital budget.She said it is important to Island County residents to hold onto as much wild land as possible.We have so little open space left that it's imperative we do all we can to preserve what we have left, Haugen said. This is prime recreational land important not only to residents of South Whidbey Island, but to all of Island County.The House will vote on a capital budget bill this week then, provided it passes, will send it on to the Senate."

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