PORT ANGELES – The foundations are being laid for a pilot effort to supply cedar and alder to factories on the Northern Olympic Peninsula that are lacking in raw materials, the land commissioner said on Wednesday. State, Hilary Franz.
The Natural Resources Department, which she heads, is developing a program manager job description that will include input from timber industry officials who attended the Clallam County Economic Development Board meeting on Wednesday, in which Franz was the guest speaker.
The person hired will report to the Assistant Supervisor for Uplands Angus Brodie, who will report to Franz.
MNR owns more than 5 million acres of nature reserves, conservation areas, recreation sites, aquatic lands and uplands in the 39 counties of the state.
It includes 2 million acres of land in trust for the state forests, of which 18.5 percent is in the Northern Olympic Peninsula – 208,000 acres in Jefferson County and 162,000 acres in County of Clallam.
Hiring a program manager to generate more cedar and alder availability for factories won’t come too soon for officials at Pacific Northwest Products LLC of Forks and Port Angeles Hardwood, which Franz has pledged to. participate in the development of the job description for the new program director.
The state legislature has allocated funds for a position to help MNR determine if there is more supply of hardwood and salvaged cedar wood available on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Willapa Hills, a MNR spokesperson Darwin Forsythe said in an email Wednesday afternoon.
“Obviously this was very recent, so we’re still working with stakeholders to determine the scope of this role. ”
Port Angeles hardwood log buyer Brian Karnes is eager to see the job filled.
“It’s very important for our industry to have the program and to make it succeed, to bring us more products for our mill in order to keep our mill running full time, which is a struggle on the peninsula with the limited harvest that we have had in the past, ”he told Franz.
Karnes said in a subsequent interview that the program would target cedar salvage and alder harvesting.
“Anytime we can get newspapers from local sources, the better,” he said.
Sig Toma of Portland, owner of Pacific Northwest Products in Forks, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said his company had to shut down 220 shingle machines for lack of cedar salvage from MNR and other landowners.
“This has resulted in a dramatic decrease in industry supply and we are literally losing the roofing product that can be installed over asphalt and other man-made products that are petroleum products,” Toma said in a statement. interview.
Setting up a successful pilot program “would grow the business again and there would be more roofing supplies from wood products,” Toma said.
“It’s got to the point where we might have to shut down or do something else with the plant. ”
EDC Managing Director Colleen McAleer echoed concerns over potential plant closures caused by a lack of raw materials.
“There was a great concern that they might have to shut down just based on the process that MNR went through, no other issues, so we’re really excited and hope this will be able to provide the necessary supplies to many. factories in the Olympic region, ”McAleer said at the meeting.
Franz responded that MNR would ensure that the contribution of Karnes and Toma was factored into the description and scope of the Pilot Program Director position.
“It should literally be, if it hasn’t been announced, it’s about to be announced,” Franz said.
“We’re going to need your help, guys, to help fill it with the best talent, right?” She said.
“It will help specifically in your area. ”
Franz said she was against a recent proposal, brought forward by former land commissioners Jennifer Belcher and Peter Goldmark, to tackle climate change by creating ecological reserves that every year, over 20 years, would bar commercial harvesting. 5 percent of the forest land in western Washington. .
“I believe this is not the best for our environment,” said Franz.
“It’s not the best for our communities either.
“I think the most sustainable thing we can do is grow our lumber here in Washington state.
“If we are now exporting our timber production, we are now increasing transport costs, we are also increasing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. ”
The DNR is responsible for 50 percent of production at many factories across the state, Franz said, adding that if that production ceases it could lead to problems similar to those occurring in central Washington, where there are no factories and an abundance of unhealthy private waste. , state and federal forest lands.
Franz said MNR has already set aside nearly 40 percent of its 2 million acres.
A top priority is to resolve a lawsuit in the State Supreme Court regarding Marbled Murrelet habitat that challenges the definition of the public interest in MNR lands.
“We have balanced our responsibility under the Endangered Species Act with our responsibilities as trustees to the trust,” said Franz.
She also discussed a performance assessment of land in trust and committed to ensuring the accuracy and reliability of a forest land inventory.
“It’s not a one-time job,” she said.
Bill 1168, signed by Governor Jay Inslee, provides $ 500 million to improve forest fire response and accelerate forest restoration, and funds 100 new fire stations.
There were 225 fires in April compared to 160 last year.
In the past two years, 40% of fires have occurred west of the Cascades.
“We are seeing that the southwest and the coast have significant drought issues, and we are just starting in June,” Franz said.
To see his presentation, go to clallam.org and click on “Link to Archives” on the home page.
Senior Editor Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].