The National Forest Service will be holding local meetings to find out which of the approximately 2000 miles of Olympic National Forest roads will need to be closed. Currently, 1,400 miles of road are currently open to vehicles, but 600 miles of the roads are closed, but may be opened intermittently to provide access for resource management.
According to the Forest Service, “Most roads on the Forest were built between the 1950s and 1990s to support timber management. Needs for and uses of the road system have shifted dramatically; timber harvest on the Forest has declined while other uses such as recreation have increased. As timber-harvest declined over the past two decades, so too has funding for road maintenance.”
NFS says that the funding available to maintain these roads is not available, and the unmaintained of under-maintained roads are a safety hazard.
“The current road system cannot be maintained or sustained, so it is likely the future road system will include fewer open roads. Closing roads to motor vehicle use, but maintaining use as a trail may be an opportunity identified in Travel Analysis. However, funding for trail maintenance is continuing to decline too, so an opportunity to convert a road to a trail must consider sustainability of the trail system, too.”
Following the meetings, they will look over the data and by Fall 2015 will finalize their “travel analysis report” on the roads to see if more of them need to be closed.
- Wednesday June 25, 2014, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Quilcene, Washington, Quilcene School, Multi-purpose Room, 294715 U.S. Hwy 101
- Thursday July 17, 2014, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., Port Townsend, Washington, Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.
- Wednesday July 30, 2014, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Quinault, Washington, Olympic National Forest, Quinault Ranger Station, 363 South Shore Rd.
- Tuesday August 19, 2014, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Shelton, Washington, Shelton Civic Center, 525 Cota St.
- Thursday August 21, 2014, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Aberdeen, Washington, Rotary Log Pavillion, 1401 Sargent Blvd.
- Thursday August 27, 2014, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Olympia, Washington, Olympic National Forest, Supervisor’s Office, 1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW
Residents can provide input multiple ways.
1) Attend an Open House around the Olympic Peninsula and provide input on maps and questionnaires.
2) Provide comments on our Web-based Map until August 31, 2014.
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.
A new board responsible for restoring fish habitat by expediting the removal of fish barriers in Washington’s streams will hold its first meeting June 17 in Olympia.
The Fish Passage Barrier Removal Board will develop a statewide strategy for removing fish barriers on state, local and private lands. Washington has an estimated 30,000 fish barriers, such as culverts, which impede the migration of steelhead and salmon.
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Frank Gordon said that efforts continue to remove any barriers for fish. This includes a project approved this month along the Ocean Beach Road and Chenois(SHUN-NOOSE) Creek.
Commissioner Frank Gordon says this project will have a significant impact on fish that use that creek to spawn.
In 2001 the treaty tribes in western Washington, including the Quinault Indian Nation, filed suit under U.S. v. Washington, challenging the existence of fish blocking culverts. A 2013 federal court injunction requires Washington to remove hundreds of state-owned culverts by 2030.
The board was created earlier this year through state legislation that streamlines the permitting process for the projects. The board will give preference to projects that will most benefit threatened or endangered species.
Board members will meet at 9 a.m. June 17 in Olympia. All meetings are open to the public but only board members will participate in the discussion.
Information on future board meetings, as well as meeting agendas and notes, can be found on the Fish Passage Barrier Removal Board’s web page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/fpbrb/.
In efforts to keep anyone visiting local beaches healthy as they head to the shore this summer, environmental group Heal the Bay will be issuing water quality grades for over 200 beach monitoring locations in Washington and Oregon throughout the beach season.
So far, Grays Harbor beaches have ranked an A+ rating. 9 beach access areas on the South Beach have been tested so far, all receiving an A+.
Ocean users in the Northwest generally enjoy very good water quality, according to Heal the Bay’s online Beach Report Card, which grades shorelines along the entire western coast of the United States each week based on levels of bacterial pollution. However, troubling pockets of pollution still dot the coastline throughout the year.
Beachgoers can check updated weekly grades each Friday at beachreportcard.org. Heal the Bay provides this online database as a free public service. You can find out which beaches are safe and unsafe, check recent water quality history and look up details on beach closures.
In the latest weekly report, all Washington monitoring locations are earning A grades during dry weather. However, there are 10 monitoring locations at three beaches in the state closed due to pollution-related issues: a sewage spill, dairy waste discharge to a creek, and one unknown cause of elevated bacteria in marine waters.
None of these closures impact Grays Harbor or Pacific County.
The full annual report on Oregon and Washington beach water quality can be found at:http://www.healthebay.org/sites/default/files/pdf/BRC_2014_WEB_.pdf
The Recreation and Conservation Office announced more than $1.3 million in grants will go to fix and restore trails to 31 projects that spans 17 counties. This includes $20,530 for Grays Harbor to maintain the Straddleline ORV Park Trails and Campground.
“These grants help get trails ready for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, off-road vehicle riders, and others in the summer” said Kaleen Cottingham, RCO director. “Without these grants many trails would be closed because of fallen trees and hazardous conditions.”
Grays Harbor will use this grant to maintain 15 miles of trails and handle backlogged maintenance issues on about 50 acres of the campground. The County will clear trails, remove overgrown brush, repair water drainage, fix trail surfaces, and install signs during the next 2 years. The County will also use the grant to buy a mini excavator and other equipment. The 155-acre park serves about 25,000 motorized vehicle users annually.
Grays Harbor County will contribute $52,500 in donated labor from the Seattle Motorcycle Club, Gallerdo Dirt Maffia, and Puget Sound Enduro Riders.
The trail grants are from the federally-funded Recreational Trails Program, as well as projects to educate trail users about protecting the environment and having a safe experience. Funding comes from federal gasoline taxes attributed to recreational, non-highway uses.
“The competition for these grants is very high,” Cottingham said. “That means that only the best projects get funded.”
For more information on the agency or its grant programs, visit the Web site: http://www.rco.wa.gov.
Fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 one-and-a half pound triploid rainbow trout into 20 lakes just before this weekend for Father’s Day. In Grays Harbor, that means another 100 fish in Vance Creek Pond #2.
“This is the third straight year we’ve stocked triploid trout before Father’s Day,” said Chris Donley, inland fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Young people and fishing go together,” adds Donley. “Whether or not you can take your father, and whether or not you have a kid of your own, this Father’s Day weekend is a terrific time to catch a memory – and a huge trout.”
Hundreds of other Washington lakes have been stocked with millions of trout over the past year. Almost 31,000 trout have been placed in local waters since March.
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office will be participating in Operation Dry Water June 27-29, as part of a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence.
During the three-day weekend, officers will be on the water reminding boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence and detecting boaters who are impaired.
Sheriff Rick Scott told KXRO that this program is not new to the area, and so far it has made an influence.
Boating under the influence continues to be major problem nationwide. The leading factor in boater deaths is alcohol use while boating.
Scott says that while it is a familiar sight to see someone drinking while out on local waters, and they are hoping to curb that practice.
In Washington, boaters whose blood alcohol content level exceeds the state limit of 0.08 or have a THC blood concentration of 5.00 nanograms or are impaired and can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other penalties including having your vessel impounded, payment of fines, jail time or both fines and jail time.
Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols, as well as boater education and outreach.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org.