Editorial: Pact on timber sale could protect Wallace Falls State Park

By The Herald Editorial Board

A compromise pitched by Snohomish County officials may end nearly a decade of disagreement and discussions over a timber sale near Wallace Falls State Park. The park features 4,735-acre of forestland northeast of Gold Bar that offers camping facilities and hiking trails that lead past Wallace Lake and Jay Lake to the park’s falls, including its namesake 265-foot falls and the Index Town Wall, a favorite of rock climbers.

For nearly 10 years, the state Department of Natural Resources, which manages state land east of the state park, has planned to auction 187 acres of second-growth timber, referred to as the Singletary sale.

The sale, however, has pitted two legitimate needs against each other.

The state is mandated to use state forestlands for resource production that supports the construction of public schools and provides revenue to counties and taxing districts that support fire departments, hospitals, libraries and other districts. When first proposed, the minimum bid on the timber sale was estimated at $1.8 million. The timber sales also provide employment to loggers, truck drivers and local mills.

Recreational and environmental groups, however, are concerned that the timber sale’s proximity will adversely affect the park, limit access by destroying trails in the state forestland and discourage visitors to the park. The proposed timber sale includes a small portion of the DNR’s Reiter Forest, where trails have been developed that connect to the state park’s trail system and for which Snohomish County has purchased property for trailhead parking.

Beyond environmental concerns, Sultan, Gold Bar and other east county communities have come to rely on the region’s recreational attractions because they, too, support jobs and contribute to the county’s $2 billion tourism industry.

In recent years, conservation and recreation groups have met with state and county officials to find a compromise between the competing concerns, a process outlined in a recent Herald guest commentary by representatives for the Pilchuck Audubon Society and Skykomish Valley Environmental and Economic Alliance. Stakeholders met as recently as November with plans to continue discussions, but at the start of the year, the DNR announced its plans to go ahead with the auction on Feb. 22.

Snohomish County commissioners, led by board member Sam Low have proposed a compromise, as reported by The Herald’s Noah Haglund, which was adopted unanimously by the board and joined by County Executive Dave Somers. The agreement asks the state to set aside 25 acres of the 187-acre sale near the state park’s eastern border, for at least four years.

Low took the proposed compromise to the state’s Commissioner of Public Land, Hillary Franz, who has said she will present it to the state’s Forest Practices Board at its meeting Tuesday before its final decision on the auction.

The state board should adopt the compromise and set aside the 25 acres as suggested for a minimum of four years.

As happens with compromise, everyone gets something, even if nobody is entirely satisfied.

Kristin Kelly, executive director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society, told The Herald that the compromise, while protecting 25 acres near the park, will open up about 1,500 to 2,000 other acres to timber harvest through the construction of roads and bridges for logging.

But that four-year window for the 25 acres provides an opportunity to permanently add that property, where trails already have been built, to Wallace Falls State Park.

If the proposal is adopted, Pilchuck Audubon, the east county communities and other groups should use the next four years to secure funding — perhaps using matching grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program — to add the land to the state park.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, July 6

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

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Happy Independence Days, America

Linked by history and promise, Juneteenth and the Fourth of July should be celebrated together.

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2016 file photo, a man fishes for salmon in the Snake River above the Lower Granite Dam in Washington state. Three Republican U.S. House members from Washington state are criticizing Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., for opposing their legislation that would prevent the breaching of four dams on the Snake River to help improve endangered salmon runs. (Jesse Tinsley /The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)
Editorial: Waiting could force bad choice on dams, salmon

Work should begin now to begin replacing what four dams on the Snake River provide.

State agencies must act quickly to remove car from Sauk River

I wish to thank The Herald and especially the reporter Jaqueline Allison,… Continue reading

Nate Nehring’s judgment on abortion isn’t superior to ours

Recently in The Herald, Snohomish County Representative Nate Nehring was celebrating the… Continue reading

Where was Herald’s coverage of Fourth of July?

Did you see the great coverage of Independence Day in Monday’s Herald?… Continue reading

Comment: Supreme Court showing little restraint of own power

The Roberts Court has now created what is in effect a one-way ratchet favoring deregulation.

Comment: Adoption often isn’t ‘perfect’ solution it’s sold as

For many birthmothers, like me, there are still regrets, feelings of loss and unfair comments.

Joe Kennedy, a former assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Wash., poses for a photo March 9, 2022, at the school's football field. After losing his coaching job for refusing to stop kneeling in prayer with players and spectators on the field immediately after football games, Kennedy will take his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 25, 2022, saying the Bremerton School District violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to let him continue praying at midfield after games. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Editorial: Court majority weakens church, state separation

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision does more to hurt religious liberty than protect a coach’s prayer.

Most Read