FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2010
Forest Practices Board simplifies application process for small forestland owners
Spotted owl pilot project recommended by public, private, environmental and forest work group also gains board approval
OLYMPIA – The Forest Practices Board last week approved an alternate plan template, simplifying the way small forest landowners set the riparian (streamside) buffers required adjacent to fish-bearing streams when harvesting timber in western Washington.
“Simplifying the buffer zones around forest streams gives clarity and reduces expense for small forest landowners, but does not sacrifice important habitat and clean water protections,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the Board.
Previously, owners of small forestlands (those harvesting less than two million board feet of timber in a year) in western Washington were required to conduct a multi-step process within the streamside areas to determine the width of no-harvest buffer zones around fish-bearing streams. Computing the zones under the old criteria often required expert outside help, and the results could be open to different interpretations. The new rules will base the width of these ‘no-cut’ buffers on the riparian area’s Forest Site Class. Site Classes range from Class I sites, where trees grow best, to Class V sites, where trees grow the slowest.
The new alternate plan template for small forest landowners in western Washington will go into effect as soon as the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) develops the Fixed Width Riparian Buffer form to be attached to the Forest Practices Application – expected in early March.
Work group on northern spotted owl
The Board also approved a pilot project proposed by a work group of public, private, environmental, and forestry interests. The Board appointed the temporary work group several months ago to recommend steps to improve habitat for the owl in Washington State.
The approved recommendation will develop a pilot project on the state’s eastside to improve habitat for the endangered owl in fire-prone areas. The board did not take action on a recommendation from the group for a similar pilot project west of the Cascade Mountains.
The work group was formed as a temporary body for key stakeholders, including Seattle Audubon, Washington Forest Protection Association and DNR, to find common ground in managing forestlands that are habitat for the northern spotted owl. Several of the parties represented in the group had been in litigation regarding management rules affecting the forestland that is habitat – or potential habitat – for the northern spotted owl.
Chuck Turley, DNR Deputy Supervisor of Regulatory Programs and Washington State Forester: “I’m pleased how the stakeholders have shown they can work together to solve differences and develop measures for state, private and other non-federal lands to support the broader goal of owl conservation.”
Shawn Cantrell, Executive Director for Seattle Audubon: “The Working Group identified important incremental steps that can be taken for conserving owls. The situation for northern spotted owls continues to worsen, so we are hopeful that we can build on this progress to address the big challenges that remain.”
Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association: “We made great headway on a new approach for conservation. We are working toward incentives for private landowners so threatened and endangered species, such as the northern spotted owl, might be viewed as a benefit to private landowners.”
Group members plan to continue working together informally. In addition, the Board directed DNR to form a new Implementation Working Group to prioritize the allocation of conservation efforts on non-federal land using best-available science, as well as to coordinate with the federal agencies regarding barred owl control experiments.
DNR managing public lands
DNR manages millions of acres of state trust lands to raise money for the construction of public schools, colleges and universities, prisons, and other institutions and to help pay for hospitals, libraries, and other services in several counties.
DNR is led by Peter Goldmark, the state’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands.
Media Contact: Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, firstname.lastname@example.org
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