Working Forests Action Network

In Washington, we all want healthy forests.

If there’s anything quintessentially Washingtonian, it is this one shared value.  We may come together around that goal for different reasons, but the commitment to it is universally sincere.
Exactly what makes a forest healthy is still being studied by scientists, but what they have learned so far concludes that it begins with active management.
Just as your own body health begins with some routine maintenance and preventive care, so does forest health start with practices designed to support the health of whole landscapes with active practices, what we call – not surprisingly – active forest management.
Working forests in Washington have been doing a great deal of good by implementing active forest management practices to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, keep thousands of miles of streams clear for fish passage, and sustainably growing versatile and renewable wood.  And, activity in working forests generates much-needed revenue for our school system at a time when K-12 funding is under extreme pressure.
This point of view was reinforced by two excellent op-eds, one at Seattle news website Crosscut by former Department of Natural Resources employee Todd Myers and the other in the Eugene Register-Guard by American Forest Resource Council CEO Travis Joseph.
At Crosscut, Myers suggests that the decision Washingtonians will make in the state lands commissioner race should be guided by which candidate can make a commitment to prioritize scientifically responsible active management practices to promote forest health.  Myers writes:

The next commissioner will face important environmental problems, including reducing destructive forest fires, cutting carbon emissions and protecting wildlife habitat. The good news is that there is bipartisan and scientific consensus on how to achieve those goals.
For example, reducing the risk of forest fire requires active forestry to change dead, dry forests into forests that are healthy and resistant to catastrophic fire. This policy is not controversial among scientists and has bipartisan support.
...There is a choice facing the next lands commissioner. Some argue we should shut down all sustainable timber harvests and return them to nature. That, however, ignores the science of forestry and wildlife habitat and abdicates the responsibility we have to restore unhealthy forests. Shutting down harvests and allowing forest habitat to degrade and burn would be like allowing toxic wastes in the Duwamish to simply be cleaned by the tides. Ignoring the problem is irresponsible.
Instead, we can follow the model supported by Gov. Gregoire’s Climate Advisory Team and the University of Washington. We can use the approach that successfully restored hundreds of miles of salmon habitat. And we can use that revenue to help fill the massive gap in school funding and create jobs in rural areas that have lost family-wage, manufacturing jobs.
Joseph also pointed out that a commitment to active management is also an important element of responsible climate change policies:
Forests are not a zero sum game. We can protect sensitive places, drinking water and wildlife while also practicing good management. In fact, good forest management is exactly what is needed to protect our forests and communities from devastating wildfires, disease and insect infestations, drought and the impacts of climate change.
Click here to read more on our website.

Race to be Washington’s lands manager whittles down to two candidates

Last Tuesday was Primary Election Day in Washington state and we received a decision in the race our readers our watching – the election to choose our state’s next commissioner of public lands.
In the “top two” primary, former Navy officer Steve McLaughlin emerged from a crowded 7-candidate field at the head of the pack, winning almost 38% of the overall vote. Environmental attorney Hilary Franz earned the right to face him in the November general with just 22.8%.
Our readers will remember that McLaughlin was the runaway favorite in the informal survey we conducted just as primary voters were receiving ballots. 
We’ll bring you more information about this important race between now and Election Day.

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