A Vision for a Working Olympic Peninsula
1. National Park Expansion: No National Park expansion including “willing seller” acquisitions of private or DNR Trust lands outside of the existing Park boundary. The Park is not managed well now, is economically incapable of maintaining its existing facilities or access roads and trails. It is not accessible to the majority of visiting tourists and the current (almost) million acres is sufficient for a quality wilderness experience for those physically capable. Transfer of any ownership of existing working forest or private property to park status reduces the net inventory of timberlands to support our timber-based economy.
2. Wild and Scenic River Designations: No wild and scenic designations on National Forest lands without full and open public discussion. The Peninsula Rivers are naturally wild and scenic and abundant fisheries producers under current laws, regulations and management plans and additional government regulatory overlay is unwarranted.
3. Wilderness Designations: No new wilderness designations on previously harvested and roaded lands on the Olympic National Forest. These lands do not meet the definition of wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act.
4. Olympic National Forest NW Forest Plan: Initiate an effort to modify the NW Forest Plan to add Matrix harvest areas (< 40 acres) throughout the second-growth stands in the late-successional reserve and adaptive management areas. Benefits include enhanced habitat for elk, deer, and other wildlife, which improves hunter success while providing additional jobs in the logging and forestry sector.
5. Forest Health: Maintain and enhance forest health through forest management and harvest usingadaptive management practices.
6. Emergency Salvage: Implement an emergency “blown-down” timber salvage mechanism in theOlympic National Forest plan to expedite the harvest of wind thrown timber resulting from catastrophic storm events such as occurred in 2006 and 2007. This should allow salvage of all ages of timber accessible in Late Successional Reserve (LSR) areas, and designated “Roadless” areas. Such emergency harvesting would not be appealable. Benefits include reducing the extreme fire hazard, improving wildlife habitat, providing jobs, while harvesting valuable timber whose receipts could be used to fund maintenance and enhancement of forest facilities.
7. Roadless Areas: Reopen discussions on designated Roadless areas. The communities neighboringdesignated Roadless areas did not receive adequate notice and opportunities to participate in the 2003 Roadless discussions.
8. Forest Road Access: Request review of all USFS Access and Travel Management plans. Poor road maintenance as well as plans for road abandonment has impacted the Olympic Forest negatively. These plans must be reviewed in a new light as to how these roads maybe restored to allow motor access for recreationists, sportsman, and those just wishing to visit the forest. Additionally there should be no “net-loss” of timber harvest due to road decommissioning. The public notice and involvement in development of the current Access and Travel Management Plan (ATM) was inadequate.
9. Off-Road Vehicles: Develop ORV opportunities on USFS designated roads. The Olympic National Forest has no designated areas and roads for ORV use. Peninsula residents have to travel to other areas of the state or out of state for this recreational activity.
10. Trail Maintenance: Current regulations allow, but should be simplified and expedited, to utilize mechanical equipment (chain saws or other) to clear trails in preserved lands. Currently it takes years to receive approval to use chain saws. The use of hand saws is not practical when hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of trees are blown down across popular hiking trails.
11. Stewardship Contracts: Implement the use of stewardship contracts for harvesting the majority of timber on the Olympic Forest. These contracts trade timber for other forest needs. For example, roads can be rebuilt, maintained; trails can be built or rebuilt; campsites constructed; boat access to rivers built, etc. The value of timber harvested remains on the forest for its needs rather than being deposited in the federal government’s general fund.
12. Conversion Assessment: Request Congressional legislation to provide for an annual “in lieu of taxes payment” to affected counties that have private lands purchased or confiscated by the Olympic Park or Olympic National Forest. These payments should reflect the developed value of properties and for timberlands the severance taxes lost when timber is harvested. Counties and other community taxing districts are now deprived of revenue when lands go into government ownership. Benefit would be the stabilization of the stream of annual income to these counties.
13. Economic Impact Analysis: A study should be mandated by Congress for all National Park and National Forest land acquisitions and major changes to Park and Forest land management plans.
14. Public Notices: All National Park and National Forest public notices should be required to be posted in all major Peninsula newspapers serving the affected Olympic communities. Currently this is not being done and the people impacted by government actions are unaware of them. This would improve public notice of agency actions.
15. Implementation: It is intended that this vision be implemented with the participation of all stakeholders including counties, cities and Tribal governments, the forest industry, labor unions, sportsmen, recreationalists, environmental groups, and private property owners.