Foresters want to avoid paperwork for routine projects

By STEVE BROWN

Capital Press

OLYMPIA -- A state legislator wants to reduce the amount of paperwork required for several standard timber practices.

In a public hearing before the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rep. Ed Orcutt said his bill would drop a requirement that costs the state, taxpayers and forest landowners time and money.

Landowners are required to have a Forest Practices Application approved by the Washington Department of Natural Resources for practices such as tree thinning, chemical application, forest road building or tree harvest.

Orcutt, R-Kalama, is a consulting forester. He wants to roll into that application several practices that have required additional approval from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They include the use, diversion, obstruction or changing the natural flow of state waters.

Orcutt's bill, HB2388, would consider certain practices as having satisfied the requirement of having to obtain that additional approval, including:

* Felling and yarding of timber.

* Bridge repair and painting.

* Water ford construction and repair.

* Removal of woody debris from culverts.

* Removal of beavers and their dams that affect road drainage and water crossings.

* Single-lane bridges over certain types of water bodies.

Two state agency spokesmen said the proposal leaves gaps in water protection.

Stephen Bernath, of the Department of Ecology, said allowing crossings over Type F water -- fish-bearing streams -- takes in the majority of logging roads in the state. The additional rule-making required is not funded in the governor's requested budget.

Bridget Moran, of the Department of Natural Resources, said her agency would be taking on additional tasks without additional funding. She said an alternative bill in the Senate would raise fees.

However, Debra Munguia, of the Washington Forest Protection Association, said these are low-complexity projects that naturally integrate fish streams with Forest Practices Applications.

Steve Stinson, who manages 1,171 acres of family forestland in Western Washington, agreed the listed tasks are standard practices.

"If I'm unplugging beaver debris from a culvert or maintaining a bridge, those are all part of everyday tree farming," he said.

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