Local Weyerhaeuser permits could sell out in 25 minutes
Permits for access to Weyerhaeuser’s Aberdeen Operating Area go on sale Thursday starting at 6 pm. Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier has announced that on Monday he will introduce an ordinance that will restrict “fee for access” to certain timber lands.
Grays Harbor currently offer 2 exemptions for timber land called Designated Forestland and Current Use Timber. These programs provide tax benefits for areas used primarily for harvesting timber. The only distinction is the size of the property.
Local Weyerhaeuser land is included in these tax exemptions.
The RCW related to the designations allow the exemption only if the land will be “primarily devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber”. Documentation must show if the land “is subject to a lease, option, or other right that permits it to be used for any purpose other than growing and harvesting timber” and “the applicant is aware of the potential tax liability involved when the land ceases to be designated as forest land”.
According to the Grays Harbor Exempt Designated Forestland definition, the Assessor may remove this tax exemption if they determine that, “after giving the owner written notice and an opportunity to be heard, the land is no longer primarily used for and devoted to growing and harvesting timber.”
Commissioner Cormier said that his ordinance would require timber management plans to define if they will be used for timber harvesting or for recreational use, in essence defining the portion “primarily”. Weyerhaeuser spokesman Anthony Chavez tells KXRO that their company believes that the ordinance would exceed State law, and therefore not be able to be implemented locally.
Currently, the local Weyerhaeuser land in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties allows free public access, although in April the company announced that new rules, starting in August, will require a permit for certain areas.
Access will require one of two permits. A $75 annual general permit will be available in limited numbers, and an enhanced permit will be required for the Upper Donovan, Satsop, Artic, and North River areas.
For $75, a General Access Permit will “give you, your spouse and children age 18 and under, access to 126,000 acres, seven days a week from 1½ hours before daylight to 1½ hours after sunset, from August 1st to July 31st.” Family members are only allowed access if they are with the permit holder.
The price will be $200 for the Upper Donovan and Satsop and $250 for Artic. These enhanced permits will also grant access to the year-round general permit area.
North River requires a separate lease, and normal forest management activities will continue. Active logging, road construction, herbicide spraying, and all other operations will continue during the entire permit season, and Weyerhaeuser says that “These activities have priority over recreational activities.”
The bidding on those enhanced leases closed June 4th.
The North Elma and Lower Donovan will not require a permit for non-motorized access.
On Monday, the 1000 permits for Vail went on sale and sold out within 3 minutes according to Chavez. In 2013, those same permits sold in approximately 3 hours. There are approximately 8000 permits available for the Grays Harbor and Pacific County land.
For more information about the new permit process, visit www.wyrecreationnw.com.