U.S. House could vote this week on “Healthy Forests” bill to increase logging of federal forest lands

PORTLAND, Ore. - Legislation that would greatly increase logging on public land could be on the U.S. House floor by Friday.
Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Doc Hastings tells KBKW "The Healthy Forests Act would allow for more economic activity on federal timber land. After all federal timber lands were designed to be multiple use, but over the years - as you in Southwestern Washington know - timber harvests have declined."
HR 1526 would also exempt some timber sales from federal environmental laws that Hastings said have tightened the choker on logging. "Principally in the Northwest it's because of the Endangered Species Act - and the spotted owl specifically. But in other parts of the country it has been regulations and red tape that has essentially caused timber harvests nationwide in the last 30 years to decline by some %80. - more in the Northwest."
Opponents of the measure say it could bring back clear cutting, and would incentivize local jurisdictions to liquidate their forests.
Hastings said he expected bipartisan support for the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. If it passes the House floor, it would move to the Senate for review.

Bridge inspections begin on Olympic National Forest

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Engineers from Olympic National Forest will conduct bridge inspections this week through September 12. By law, bridge inspections are required every two years to ensure that the bridges within Olympic National Forest are compliant with National Bridge Inspection Standards. These safety checks are expected to cause delays of up to 60 minutes.

An Under Bridge Inspection Truck will be used to complete the inspections. This specialized piece of equipment has a very long arm that extends under the bridge from the bridge deck. The inspection truck blocks access entirely while the inspection is in progress. The following bridges will be inspected:

  • Lower Canyon River Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2368 
  • Humptulips Gorge Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2204 
  • Middle Matheny Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2160080 
  • South Fork Calawah Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2932000 
  • Sitkum Gorge Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2900070 
  • South Fork Soleduck Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2918000 
  • Dungeness Forks Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2880000 
  • Church Creek Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2361000 
  • South Fork Skokomish Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2353000 
  • Skokomish Gorge Bridge, also known as the High Steel Bridge, on Forest Service Road 2340000

Fire restrictions in effect on WDFW-managed lands, no smoking

OLYMPIA, Wash. - With unusually dry conditions and wildfires burning in parts of the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is prohibiting campfires and other activities on all agency-managed lands.

 

The emergency order now in effect prohibits:

 

  • Fires or campfires: However, personal camp stoves or lanterns fueled by liquid petroleum, liquid petroleum gas or propane are allowed.
  • Smoking: Unless in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Target shooting: Except at shooting ranges developed by WDFW.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws and other equipment:Operating a torch with an open flame and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
    • Operating a motor vehicle off developed roads: Except when parking in areas without vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway and parking in developed campgrounds and at trailheads.

 

Forest Service seeks comment on two Olympic Penninsula thinning projects

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Wash. - The US Forest Service is proposing the thinning of about 5,000 acres in the Queets River watershed, north of Lake Quinault.
The purpose of the project is to restore and improve late-successional habitat conditions, generate economic activity, and provide jobs in the area.

The thinning would take place in Jefferson County, on Olympic National Forest, Pacific Ranger District, Sam's River, Matheny Creek, Queets River, and Salmon River subwatersheds in the Queets River watershed, north of Lake Quinault. The department is seeking public comment on the proposed project.

https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=41044

Also open for public comment is the proposed thinning of 3,300 acres in the East Fork Humptulips watershed. To view the entire list, visit fs.usda.gov

Elk Foundation Grants Fund Research and Habitat Work in State

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Enhancing over 10,000 acres of habitat and using GPS collars to research the Snoqualmie Valley elk herd top a list of Washington conservation projects slated to receive 2012 grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The RMEF funding commitment totals $189,960 and affects 11 counties: Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Grays Harbor, King, Lewis, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Stevens and Yakima.

Two projects have statewide interest. One has implications across the northwestern U.S.

The research in Snoqualmie Valley will identify elk herd composition, habitat use and movement patterns, and the data will be used to identify highway crossings and improve management plans, we’re proud to work with the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Dept. of Transportation and other partners on this important project. - David Allen, RMEF president and CEO


Allen added that prescribed burning, weed treatment and forest thinning projects will be used to enhance habitat in many areas of the state.

RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Since 1985, the organization and its partners have completed 484 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $106 million.

Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Washington. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation both in Washington and all across elk country.

Dicks and Murray Drop Portion of Wild Olympics Proposal, Close in on Legislation

ABERDEEN, Wash. - In an effort to further tame the Wild Olympics proposal, and come closer to legislation, Sen. Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks announced yesterday that the group is dropping the 'willing seller, willing buyer' component of the proposal. 
"This is the biggest change that we're making, that we're announcing today. We are taking the park piece off the table, so the only thing that is going to be in there is the wilderness and the wild and scenic river aspects." Sara Crumb, district director for Dicks informed Grays Harbor Democrats last night at their regular meeting "We've been listening, we've heard these concerns, and we think we can go forward with a piece of legislation that is very responsible, doesn't impact jobs, but preserves these very important areas for future generations."
Both the Wild Olympics, and the Working Wild Olympics groups spoke at last night's meeting, one week before a mayor-organized meeting will inform the public on the same issue.
We've been listening, we've heard these concerns, and we think we can go forward with a piece of legislation that is very responsible, doesn't impact jobs, but preserves these very important areas for future generations. - Sara Crumb
The Dicks-Murray version of the proposal would designate 130,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land as wilderness where no logging would be allowed; designate 23 river systems as wild and scenic within Olympic National Forest and the park. But will no longer include a portion that would allow the park to buy up to 20,000 acres of mostly private forest land if a willing seller was found.
A public meeting on the matter next week will be held in the Bishop Center at the Aberdeen campus of Grays Harbor College on Thursday, May 10th at 6-9pm.

You can hear last night's proposals in the KBKW Exclusive category of our On Demand section.

Wild Olympics
Working Wild Olympics
Murray Dicks Olympics 


Forest Service Struggles to Keep Up with WA Backcountry Maintenance

SEATTLE, Wash. - Cuts to Forest Service programs outlined in the U.S. House Republican budget are raising concerns from those in the state who enjoy outdoor recreation.

Conservation and sportsmen's groups are predicting that camping, hunting and hiking experiences in Washington are bound to change this year if the Senate goes along with the House budget proposal to cut Forest Service funding. The groups already are pitching in as volunteers for the agency, doing stream and trail maintenance in some areas.

Backcountry Horsemen of Washington is one such group. Its public lands committee chairman, Jeff Chapman, says some areas could be closed or become inaccessible, prompting overuse of other areas and more maintenance problems.

"If there's a reasonable amount of support, a reasonable amount of funding to keep enough folks on the ground, enough law enforcement on the ground, enough trail workers - then, even with the backlogged maintenance, we can keep up to it, spread the impact around and stay ahead of the curve."

Olympic National Forest to Begin Prescribed Fires

Olympia, WA – Fire managers at Olympic National Forest will soon begin their annual schedule of prescribed fire activities on both the Hood Canal and Pacific Ranger Districts.  Prescribed fires are planned ignitions designed with specific objectives in mind.  They are implemented only when environmental conditions such as wind, fuel moisture levels, and relative humidity are favorable.  Safety, for firefighters as well as the public, is the top priority at every prescribed fire.  

This year’s planned ignitions are pile burns designed to reduce hazardous fuels in areas that have experienced recent logging activity.  The fires can begin as early as next week and may continue as late as November this year, depending on local weather conditions.  The fires will be monitored closely by qualified personnel.  Local authorities will be notified prior to ignition and kept informed throughout the burn.  

Residents and visitors may see or smell smoke and glowing embers may be visible at night.  Smoke may settle into lower elevation areas, particularly at night and in the early morning hours, and visitors are advised to use extreme caution at these times since visibility may be impacted.

Report Gives Thumbs-Up to Pacific NW Legacy Roads Program

SEATTLE, Wash. - A new federal report says the U.S. Forest Service's Legacy Roads Program is getting the job done in the Pacific Northwest when it comes to forest restoration and protecting water resources, and now there is a call to expand the program to create more employment.

Federal statistics show up to 24 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on these projects. That's a big reason Congressman Norm Dicks wants to see the program expanded, along the lines of the old Civilian Conservation Corps.

"This thing keeps people at work; in fact, I think we should really accelerate it because the people in the rural areas need jobs. These are the kind of things we need to do to help people, rather than just unemployment comp."

Olympic Peninsula 2011 Title II Projects Approved

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Olympic Peninsula Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) met in Montesano last month to review FY2011 Title II project proposals and make recommendations for the expenditure of funds resulting from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.  All of the projects occur on, or to the benefit of, National Forest lands in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Mason Counties.
 
Forest Supervisor Dale Hom recently signed a statement approving the RAC’s recommendations.