Statement of Wild Olympics Campaign on New Timber Analysis of Draft ONF Wilderness/Wild and Scenic River Proposal

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“We welcome the independent timber analysis by forester Derek Churchill of Stewardship Forestry Consulting, which indicates the draft Wilderness/Wild and Scenic River proposal will not have any significant impact on the Olympic National Forest (ONF) timber supply. 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."

“Mr. Churchill’s analysis indicates the wilderness proposal’s effect on the Olympic National Forest timber base is so small, that even at an accelerated harvest rate, the acreage left available would keep the Forest Service busy for more than half a century without any interruption whatsoever to the timber supply."

“The Dicks-Murray draft plan would designate 132,000 acres on the Olympic National Forest as wilderness. Churchill, who has worked with ONF staff on designing and reviewing timber sales in the past, concluded that 97 percent of the proposed wilderness 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 in the proposal will have no impact whatsoever on ONF timber production."

“Churchill’s report showed that only 2.2 percent of the 187,000 acres of available harvest capacity on the Olympic National Forest would be affected by the draft Congressional plan. A full 183,300 acres would be unaffected and remain available for logging. In addition, the report showed that the ONF has been harvesting an average of less than 1 percent of the current timber base annually over the last ten years. This means that even if Olympic National Forest increased their annual harvest levels by 20 percent, the acreage left available would keep the agency busy for the next half a century without interrupting any of the timber supply coming off the forest. In short, the analysis indicates the draft proposal would not have any significant effect on the Olympic National Forest timber supply."

“We have posted Mr. Churchill’s timber analysis report on our website and encourage the community to review it. We have also posted the detailed GIS map Churchill created for his report, which map shows the entire Olympic National Forest timber base overlayed with the congressional draft wilderness boundaries. It shows the location of the dispersed acres comprising the small fraction of the wilderness proposal that are technically still harvestable under current Forest Service practices. The map shows that those acres -- 4,292 out of the total 132,000-acre wilderness proposal -- are small, scattered parcels spread throughout the forest across all four counties of the Peninsula. The wilderness boundaries illustrate the great lengths Congressman Dicks and Senator Murray are taking to minimize any impacts to the ONF timber base as they draft their proposal."

“We look to this new report, as well as the much larger, comprehensive economic study of the Olympic Peninsula and the full draft congressional watershed proposal in its entirety by Headwaters Economics due out next week, to help inform the public discussion as the congressional offices continue gathering community input on their draft plan.”


Mr. Churchill is available for comment at 206-391-9832 and Derek@stewardshipforestry.com