QUILCENE, WA – Stewardship Forestry, an independent forestry consultant, released a study today on the impact of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 5995/ S.3329) on the Olympic National Forest (ONF) timber supply. The question of what that impact would be and what affect it might have on timber jobs has been much debated as the Wild Olympics proposal has been significantly modified over the past three years. The report concludes that “the proposed wilderness within the Wild Olympics legislation will not limit timber supply under the current management policy framework, and thus should not result in reduced harvesting or job losses.”
“We welcome this independent analysis by forester Derek Churchill of Stewardship Forestry Consulting, which concludes the revised wilderness and wild and scenic river designations in Senator Murray’s and Congressman Dicks’ Wild Olympics legislation will not cost timber jobs or have any significant impact on the Olympic National Forest (ONF) timber supply,” said Connie Gallant, Chair of the Wild Olympics Campaign. The Wild Olympics Campaign commissioned the timber analysis to help inform the public discussion about land management and conservation for parts of the Olympic National Forest.
Stewardship Forestry’s Derek Churchill, who has worked with ONF staff on designing and reviewing timber sales in the past, concluded less than 1 percent of the proposed 126,000-acre wilderness is harvestable under the current management policies of the Olympic National Forest. Earlier drafts of the proposal had contained nearly five times that amount. The study showed more than 99 percent of the wilderness proposed in the final legislation is already out of the timber base either because of current Forest Service administrative protections, riparian areas, distance from roads, or other factors the agency considers when conducting timber sales. The proposed wilderness designation would simply make current administrative protections permanent. In addition, the report confirmed that the Wild and Scenic River designations proposed in the legislation will have no impact on ONF timber production.
The report illustrates that it is the rate of harvest, not available timber, that is the primary factor in determining what impacts, if any, there could be to timber supply or related jobs. It concludes that 190,000 acres of available timber harvest capacity exists on the Olympic National Forest that would be unaffected by the proposed designations in the Murray/Dicks legislation. Because the current rate of harvest averages only 1,350 acres annually, the report concludes that the Olympic National Forest could significantly accelerate its current rate of harvest, for 50 years or more.
Mr. Churchill is available for comment at 206-391-9832 and Derek@stewardshipforestry.com