Washington DNR Wants More Time To Decide On Logging Unstable Slopes
In the wake of the Oso landslide and the current situation unfolding at Rattlesnake Ridge, Washington state public lands commissioner Hilary Franz is asking the Legislature for more time to review proposals from timber companies to log potentially unstable slopes.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently has 30 days to evaluate timber harvest applications for landslide risk.
Franz says giving DNR 60 days instead of 30 would give agency geologists “enough time to make sure we have all the materials, we’ve reviewed the science, we’ve gotten on the ground and been able to ensure that the public will be safe pursuant to any logging activities,” Franz explains.
It would also give the public time to weigh in on logging proposals, she adds.
The 30-day window was set back in 1974, Franz says, when “we did not have the knowledge and the science that we now have regarding unstable slopes and activities on unstable slopes, and we didn’t have the size and number of applications that we are receiving each year.”
The Washington Forest Protection Association, a timber industry group, says taking more time to review proposals would create unnecessary delay and uncertainty for timber companies.
“Washington has a very robust forest practices rule system, and this legislation appears to be a duplicative and expensive permitting process,” says Cindy Mitchell, an association spokesperson. “It doesn’t appear to be an additional level of protections. It’s about additional process.”
“The idea of allowing analysts enough time to come to a good decision on forest practice applications is really an excellent idea,” says David Montgomery, a geomorphologist at the University of Washington who specializes in landslides.
But he said it is also important to have sufficient guidelines rules to guide those decisions, especially when it comes to guiding decisions, like whether to approve an application to log where there is a risk of “reactive landslides.”
Franz says she is also looking at updating the rules the Forest Practices Board enforces, but the rule-making process doesn’t have to go through the legislature.
Copyright 2018 Earthfix. For more environmental news of the Northwest, see earthfix.info.
In January 2018, around 100 homes were destroyed by mudslides in Montecito, California. The same conditions that brought that destruction could exist here in the Northwest – after all, we’ve had the same kinds of wildfires that California saw in December. Continue Reading It’s Not Just Flame That Makes Wildfire Destructive; Debris Flows Destroy Too
The emergency seems to be over for now at the slow-moving landslide at Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima. The state has taken down warning signs on the highway below. But for some, the drive is still nerve wracking. They’ve coined a phrase for driving quickly past the slide: “Shooting the Gap.” Continue Reading Nervous Drivers Still ‘Shooting The Gap’ At Rattlesnake Ridge Landslide
The landslide on Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima is likely going to be a slow one—it could take years or decades to fully come down. Now, residents can return. That’s the upshot of a new independent geology report commissioned by the state. Continue Reading UPDATE: Residents Near Rattlesnake Ridge Can Return Home; Threat Level Downgraded