Olympic Forest Collaborative to host Aberdeen meeting

The Olympic Forest Collaborative will host two public meetings this spring to get input on its work to increase timber harvests in the area, while also benefiting the environment in Olympic National Forest.

For the past several years, the collaborative has brought together stakeholders from the environmental community, the timber industry and representatives from the federal and local governments with the goal of increasing timber harvest from the Olympic National Forest, while also improving the environment. It was initiated by Congressman Derek Kilmer as a way to bring different parties together to work on the issue.

“The recent successes achieved by the Olympic Forest Collaborative show that we don’t have to choose between protecting our environment and creating a more vibrant economy,” Kilmer said.

The collaborative’s next meeting will be April 15 in Aberdeen’s Rotary Log Pavilion from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by another May 28 in Port Angeles at Peninsula College, Lecture Hall J47.

The group has assisted the U.S. Forest Service with preparing commercial thinning timber sales to help the Olympic National Forest meet and recently exceed their timber targets. It also funds habitat and aquatic restoration objectives, according to the collaborative’s press release.

The collaborative is part of a stewardship contracting program, meaning profits from timber sales and timber thinning projects can be retained for use on the peninsula and reinvested on habitat and aquatic restoration projects — instead of going back to the federal government.

One member of the collaborative is Sierra Pacific Industries. Community Relations Manager Lisa Perry said being a part of the group has helped Sierra Pacific obtain more timber sales, and that the collaborative has helped the different sides learn from each other.

“The good thing these collaboratives do is they get everyone at the table,” said Perry. “Once everyone learns from everyone, they see, it doesn’t just bring logs into the mill. It brings logs in, makes the forest healthier, protects wildlife habitat and provides money for conservation projects.”

The collaborative is currently working on two new stewardship projects for 2019. One is the Humptulips project, which will thin approximately 70 acres of second-growth stands within the Humptulips River watershed in Grays Harbor County. The other is the Queets Corner project, which will treat approximately 50 acres within the Queets River watershed in Jefferson County.

The collaborative will work with local watershed-restoration groups to identify and pursue priority aquatic restoration projects as part of the stewardship contracts.