On the path to a prosperous green future, we should be guided by science.
That’s the track private forest landowners and state government policymakers have walked together since 1999, when we made the positive choice to adopt adaptive forest management practices that put science --- not politics --- in the driver’s seat on decisions we make about our natural environment.
What’s adapative management, you say? We’re glad you asked.
By gathering and analyzing scientific data to measure how well specific forest practices are doing at meeting our shared goals --- ensuring that our healthy working forests preserve clean, cool water and habitats for salmon --- adaptive management practices are an invaluable tool. Using the data, policymakers will be able to set regulations with greater precision to do the most good for our environment without going so far that sustainable forestry is harmed.
But on the way to a good thing, it’s easy to get lost and earlier this year the state government went missing on keeping its commitment to this shared goal.
Although the state Senate unanimously passed a bill to fund adaptive management, and an overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators in the state House pledged support for the measure, time ran out on the session and the legislation failed to get a hearing or a vote.
There is still hope to maintain Washington state's position as a place where science guides our public policy and our environment truly matters. The governor has indicated that he wants to see adaptive management move forward, and strong support is still present in the legislature.
Next year, the state budget will be as hot a topic as ever. Funding adaptive management holds the potential to be a net revenue positive for the state, because adaptive management identifies when specific practices can be modified to allow more work to be done in our forests without cutting corners on our environmental commitments.
Adaptive management is a win for the environment, a win for everyone involved in our working forests, a win for the state, and a win for science.
We will keep you informed on developments in this important issue affecting our working forests.