Agencies act on storm damage
Millions of board-feet of timber blown down in storm
By STEVE BROWN
As cattlemen and forest landowners south of Washington's Mount Adams clean up after a January ice storm, they have turned to state and federal agencies for help.
Klickitat County was particularly hard-hit, with about 350 miles of fence down or damaged and between 5 million and 10 million board-feet of timber on the ground, which cattleman Jack Field called a "forced harvest."
A disaster declaration was confirmed in February for 11 counties surrounding Klickitat, Field said.
Neil Kayser, a rancher in Centerville, said the fences need to be repaired before cattle can be turned out to summer pasture. "If we can get some assistance, that would be great, but we'll do it one way or the other," he said. "We're down to crunch time."
Virginia Amidon, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Klickitat County, said her agency has responded with an Emergency Conservation Program.
"We're going to help with repairs from trees that fell on fences," she said. "That's a cost-share program, with the percentage depending on the age of the fencing. The older the fence, the less we'll pay."
Jeremy Grose, inventory forester at SDS Lumber Co. in Bingen, said between 10,000 and 20,000 acres were affected across a half-million acres.
"The damage is patchy and isolated, but where it occurred it's pretty extreme," he said. "In areas of draws that roll to the north, we'll some real devastation in those areas."
Landowners have met with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, seeking salvage permits. They also asked the state's congressional delegation to seek federal assistance.
Bryan Flint, director of communication for the DNR, said 13 applications have been submitted for salvage-related activities in a process called "alternate plans" for blowdowns in riparian zones and other situations. Applications will be judged based on rules and assessment of the conditions and the site.
As far as fence damage is concerned, Flint said: "We lease the land. Fences would be the lessee's responsibility."