King County, WA, June 20, 2023 – King County, NGO’s, and the Snolqualmie Tribe have called for the halt of a timber sale in Washington’s legacy forests. Threats from timber sales and harvesting continue to threaten the Pacific Northwest’s “legacy” or mature forests, including the proposed “Wishbone” timber sale proposed for the Snolqualmie Creek area in Washington.
A lawsuit brought by Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE), Legacy Forest Defense Coalition and Save the Olympic Peninsula against the Wishbone sale states in their press release that the Washington Board of Natural Resources failed to adequately consider climate change impacts when approving the controversial timber sale. The court filing states that “the proposed logging operations will eliminate carbon sequestration on these sites for 10-15 years after harvest, generate significant quantities of both biogenic and fossil fuel related greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate change risks associated with heat waves, warming waters, landslides, flooding, wildfires, and other stressors already on the rise due to climate change.” In 2022, plaintiffs won a similar lawsuit when the WA Superior Court ruled that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had inadequately considered climate impacts on two previous timber sales, and ordered it to redo an environmental analysis, including climate impacts as required under existing state environmental laws.
Following the lawsuit, others joined the fight to stop the Wishbone timber sale. Seven members of the King County City Council, as well as the indigenous Snoqualmie Tribe, have also called for the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to halt the sale. In their letter, the Council noted “DNR’s lack of disclosure about the climate impacts of timber sales like Wishbone and the failure to consider reasonable alternatives such as protecting existing mature legacy forests as carbon and biodiversity reserves.” The Council emphasized that “mature temperate conifer forests in the Pacific Northwest sequester more carbon than any other forest ecosystem in North America.” The Wishbone area contains diverse maturing forests including 100 year-old Majestic Douglas Firs towering 200 feet and measuring 50 inches in diameter.
Shortly after receiving the Council’s letter in late July, DNR noted in their reply that they would “defer” the timber sale in order to meet with policymakers, while also noting that they “believe our working forests can and should continue to power our economy”. At present the agency has made no binding commitments other than offering to meet with stakeholders and politicians.
King County letter is available online here.
CSE, LFDC and STOP Notice of Appeal for the Wishbone Sale is available online here.
A summary of the prior SEPA litigation in Jefferson County is available here.