Judge halts timber sale near Wallace Falls State Park

GOLD BAR — A Snohomish County judge has voided a state timber sale near Wallace Falls State Park and ordered the Department of Natural Resources to perform more environmental studies.

That could prevent any logging on the Singletary tract until next year, unless the agency completes its analysis within weeks so that road construction can start before the rainy season.

“The question now is if the DNR is going to rush it through, or are they going to take the time to work through a more holistic plan?” said Peter Goldman, an environmental attorney working with the groups that sued the state. “We’re hoping for the latter.”

The Singletary sale went to auction in May. Three environmental groups promptly sued to stop the logging of 166 acres. At issue was the decision this past spring to remove more than 20 acres from the harvest to protect trails and scenery around the popular state park near Gold Bar. The area removed from the sale is set to become county parkland.

The suit was filed by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, Friends of the Wild Sky and the Skykomish Valley Environmental & Economic Alliance.

The state had performed its required environmental studies on the larger parcel. The changed contours of the sale, the plaintiffs argued, meant it should have been reexamined.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Millie Judge agreed. Her Aug. 11 ruling orders the DNR to perform a study called a threshold determination.

“They tried to sneak it through as a smaller timber sale,” Goldman said. “The court said this is not just a smaller sale. It’s a whole new setting, a whole new sale.”

Among other factors, that includes looking at the impact of logging trucks running through a county park. The court ruling also specified that trees on the county land can’t be counted toward the total that need to be left uncut in the harvest area.

The agency has yet to decide whether to appeal or to go ahead with the environmental work, a spokesman said. It’s unclear how long any potential environmental analysis would take.

The Singletary harvest is trust land managed by the state to generate revenue for local and state governments. Sierra Pacific Industries of Anderson, California, put in the winning bid of $1.7 million.

In June, the DNR estimated that the state schools budget would have netted nearly $800,000 from the sale. The county would have gotten $193,000 for roadbuilding and another $114,000 for general operations. The local fire district, Sno-Isle Libraries, Valley General Hospital and Sultan schools each were in line for smaller portions. The DNR was set to keep a 25 percent management fee.

Logging the Singletary tract is an expensive proposition that requires building roads and bridges. With that infrastructure in place, loggers would have easier access to an additional 1,500 acres of nearby state-managed forest.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Edmonds City Council members returned for their first in-person meeting in over a year Tuesday night.
In first in-person meeting, Edmonds Rescue Plan passes 6-1

The ordinance provides money for utility bills, tourism, nonprofits, green infrastructure and more.

Damian Greene (Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey man threatens to sue students over Facebook post

Damian Greene says the posting indicates he had a role in stealing a Black Lives Matter banner.

Arlington man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

The man was driving north on I-5 Wednesday when he crossed the median.

The Monroe Correctional Complex on Thursday, April 9, 2020. Inmates held a demonstration on Wednesday night after six inmates tested positive for COVID-19. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
State will close a minimum security unit at Monroe prison

Corrections officials had targeted two units in the first phase of closures. No date for action.

George Hurst (left), Christine Frizzell (center) and Jim Smith.
Lynnwood council colleagues compete in mayoral primary election

Christine Frizzell, George Hurst, and Jim Smith are vying to fill current mayor Nicola Smith’s position.

Ric Shallow suffered critical injuries after his sedan hit a patch of black ice and crashed into a tree on the morning of Jan. 7, 2016 on Camano Island.
Island County pays another $9 million for crash at icy curve

Doctors did not expect Ric Shallow to live after a crash on Camano Island. He’s still recovering.

Medical examiner: Woman died by suicide in Lynnwood Jail

An investigation into the 47-year-old woman’s death is expected to wrap up in the coming days.

Former Marysville student charged with racist death threats

Prosecutors say the defendant, 20, made multiple threats in the past while attending high school.

Woman shot in drive-by in Mountlake Terrace

She was transported to Harborview Medical Center and is in stable condition.

Most Read