Neighbors raise concerns over Camano timber harvest

CAMANO ISLAND — A private 40-acre forest near Camano’s two state parks could be cut down by Jan. 1 if a planned timber harvest is approved by the state Department of Natural Resources.

People on the island have until Sept. 30 to comment about the harvest on private land near Cama Beach and Camano Island state parks. The DNR ruling on the application is due Oct. 16.

A Bellevue woman named Lucy Huang has applied to the state so she can employ Erickson Logging of Gig Harbor to log her property south of W. Mountain View Road.

Huang and the logging company originally applied in August, but resubmitted the application Monday after neighbors notified the DNR that Huang’s forest included a bald eagle nest, wetlands and a creek.

The new application includes plans to provide a buffer around the nest. It also would forego the use of heavy equipment to log in the wetlands area and provide a culvert in the creek during the logging operation, said DNR spokesman Bob Redling.

At this point, only heavy rain could change the plans for the harvest, said Peter Blansett, an Everett forestry consultant who represents Erickson Logging. If the soil and ground conditions are still stable when the permit is approved, logging could begin this fall.

If all goes well, replanting could begin next spring after the threat of frost is past, Blansett said. State law requires that private forests be replanted within three years of logging.

“This is largely a mature forest of big-leaf maple and alder,” Blansett said. “These deciduous trees have a finite life span, so this is the property owner’s opportunity to make some money.”

Just how much the harvest might be worth is not certain.

“I have not appraised and am not privy to the precise dollar figure,” Blansett said. “But I can tell you that I recently marketed a very similar 40-acre patch of timber for over $150,000.” The cost to provide a buffer around the eagle’s nest will cut into the profits by about $20,000, he said.

Logging of private forests is common throughout the state and Island County, Blansett said.

Nevertheless, 40 acres is a big chunk of forest to log, especially considering that it is so close to the island’s state parks, neighbors have said.

Kathryn Wells, who lives near Huang’s property, plans to send her comments on the logging application to the DNR.

“We appreciate the closer examination of the property by the DNR and state Fish and Wildlife, and that the applicant addressed some of our concerns, such as the eagle’s nest,” Wells said. “But we still have questions about water runoff after the trees are cut down. All of us around here have very wet properties.”

Not all people who own forests on Camano Island log their property.

To the west of the Huang property is a 30-acre forest and wetlands that the Joe and Cathy Holton family earlier this year donated to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust for a permanent conservation easement. The property won’t be logged or developed.

People involved in the Friends of Camano Island Parks organization praised the conservation donation because of its location adjacent to Cama Beach State Park and its potential to boost and protect the wildlife population that ranges throughout the island.

Wells and her neighbors are sad about the coming harvest of the Huang forest, which also includes many firs, she said.

“But it’s not the end of the world,” Wells said. “We are not trying to stop Ms. Huang from using her rights as a property owner. We just want to make sure the clear-cut doesn’t hurt other areas around her property.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Comment

To comment on the proposed logging of a private forest off W. Mountain View Road on Camano Island, email fpd@dnr.wa.gov and refer to permit No. 2813570.

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