Comment: Timber sales in county would destroy mature forests

Residents and the Snohomish County Council should challenge three sales, totaling hundreds of acres.

By Karen Crowley / For The Herald

Some of the oldest, most biologically diverse and carbon dense lowland forests that remain in Snohomish County are at risk.

Ten state timber sales are planned for auction by the Department of Natural Resources this year in Snohomish County that would collectively clearcut more than 500 acres of these rare, publicly owned forests, including trees that are more than four feet in diameter and over 100 years old!

The first timber sale, called Stilly Revisited, is scheduled for auction on May 29. It is located on a steep slope just above the North Fork Stillaguamish River, downstream of the 2014 Oso landslide site site, near a Tribal salmon restoration project, and above several residential neighborhoods.

The Legacy Forest Defense Coalition describes the timber sale as “profoundly irresponsible.” Cutting this forest would fragment and destroy large parts of one of few remaining stands of mature and old-growth forest in the Puget Sound lowlands. The timber sale also poses a significant risk to nearby residential properties. The DNR’s own geology report states: “It is not possible to predict slope movement with certainty with the available scientific knowledge.” A failure of the steep slope could send a torrent of mud and debris into the river valley, endangering the environment and communities.

Two more timber sales, Ridge Ender and Bologna, scheduled for auction in May and June, would destroy another 160 acres of rare, natural mature forests. The Ridge Ender timber sale is in a roadless area just south of the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area. It can be seen from Wallace Falls State Park and provides connection to an important county conservation and recreation area. The Bologna timber sale would clearcut 50 acres of mature forest bordering the Pilchuck River, increasing the risk of erosion and potentially undermining work that has been done to restore habitat within the river.

The DNR’s own policies require that the agency develop a plan to restore old-growth conditions across a minimum of 10 percent to 15 percent of state forestlands before logging any mature or structurally complex forests. Currently, only about 3 percent of state forestlands in the North Puget Sound region can be classified as old-growth forests, and yet the DNR continues to allow the clearcutting of the oldest remaining forests in the region at an alarming rate.

We are recommending that the Snohomish County Council and the DNR designate these and other similar forests as conservation areas. Our mature forests store more carbon per acre than any other forests in the world, and are resilient to wildfire, flooding, water shortage and biodiversity loss. County Executive Dave Somers said: “Snohomish County is committed to exploring every possible avenue to address climate change.”

These forests can and should be protected to advance climate resilience in Snohomish County.

We urge the state Board of Natural Resources to cancel the Stilly Revisited, Bologna and Ridge Ender timber sales. The Snohomish County Council and the public must ask the board to consider these forests’ greater value if left standing. The board will meet again at 9 a.m. April 2. The public may submit written comments to the board at bnr@dnr.wa.gov.

We support working forests on public lands that help fund basic county services, including school construction and road maintenance projects. We also support a healthy forest products industry with the jobs and goods they provide. There are win-win solutions available that allow the state to both fund our communities and preserve these last remaining beautiful mature forests.

Karen Crowley is president of the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County, and is joined in this commentary by Brel Froebe, executive director for the Center for Responsible Forestry; Stephen Kropp, founder of the Legacy Forest Defense Coalition; William E. Derry, president of the Pilchuck Audubon Society; and Cynthia Jones, co-chair of the Sierra Club Sno-Isle Group.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, July 22

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Scott Spahr, Generation Engineering Manager at Snohomish County PUD, points to a dial indicating 4 megawatts of power production from one of two Francis turbine units at the Henry M. Jackson Powerhouse on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, near Sultan, Washington. Some of the water that passes through units 3 and 4 — the two Francis turbines — is diverted to Lake Chaplain, which supplies water to Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Amber King best suited for PUD’s 2nd District seat

Among three solid candidates, King’s knowledge of utilities and contracts will serve ratepayers well.

Brooks: Democrats must provide an answer to MAGA’s promises

For Democrats to succeed, they need to offer people a future of both security and progress.

Krugman: For Trump, once again, it’s carnage in America

Ignoring the clear decline in crime rates for much of the country, Trump basks in thoughts of mayhem.

Krugman: It’s not just Trump that J.D. Vance has flipped on

The GOP’s vice presidential nominee has shifted position on the white working-class folks he came from.

Comment: Blaming media a poor repsonse to political violence

Conspiracy and violent rhetoric holds no specific party identification but seeks only to distract.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign event in Doral, Fla., July 9, 2024. The Biden campaign has attacked Trump’s ties to the conservative policy plan that would amass power in the executive branch, though it is not his official platform. (Scott McIntyre/The New York York Times)
Comment: Project 2025’s aim is to institutionalize Trumpism

A look at the conservative policy behind Project 2025 and the think tank that thought it up.

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Wagoner and Low to 39th Disrict seats

‘Workhorse’ Republicans, both have sponsored successful solution-oriented legislation in each chamber.

A law enforcement officer surveys the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, the site of the Republican National Convention, on July 14, 2024. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
Editorial: Weekend’s violence should steel resolve in democracy

Leaders can lower the temperature of their rhetoric. We can choose elections over violence.

A graphic show the Port of Everett boundary expansion proposed in a ballot measure to voters in the Aug. 6 primary election. (Port of Everett).
Editorial: Case made to expand Port of Everett across county

The port’s humming economic engine should be unleashed to bring jobs, opportunity to all communities.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Sunday, July 21

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Forum: How much do we really know about ‘bus stop people’?

Our assumptions about people, often fall short of accuracy, yet we justify our divisions based on them.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.