Stewardship Forestry’s Derek Churchill, who has worked with ONF staff on designing and reviewing timber sales in the past, concluded that less than 1 percent of the proposed 126,000-acre wilderness is harvestable under the current management policies of the Olympic National Forest. Earlier drafts of the proposal had contained nearly five times that amount. The study showed more than 99 percent of the wilderness proposed in the final legislation is already out of the timber base either because of current Forest Service administrative protections, riparian areas, distance from roads, or other factors the agency considers when conducting timber sales. The proposed wilderness designation would simply make current administrative protections permanent. In addition, the report confirmed that the Wild and Scenic River designations proposed in the legislation will have no impact on ONF timber production.
The report illustrates that it is the rate of harvest, not available timber, that is the primary factor in determining what impacts, if any, there could be to timber supply or related jobs. It concludes that 190,000 acres of available timber harvest capacity exists on the Olympic National Forest that would be unaffected by the proposed designations in the Murray/Dicks legislation. Because the current rate of harvest averages only 1,350 acres annually, the report concludes that the Olympic National Forest could significantly accelerate its current rate of harvest for 50 years or more.