THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is putting plans to harvest 16 acres of timber on hold following concerns raised by neighbors and Thurston County commissioners.
The property near Summit Lake was supposed to be auctioned off for harvest this summer. Last week, Thurston County commissioners sent the DNR a letter raising concerns about the environmental impact of the potential project, including landslide risks and potential water and soil runoff to homes and the lake below the property.
“The research the county’s letter is based on is not using the best available, applicable science,” said DNR spokesperson Kenny Ocker.
He said there’s a “very low” risk the project will cause any geological issues or water quality problems but said the state will look into the claims.
While the state withdrew the application for the project, the harvest will still likely happen, perhaps in the fall, according to Ocker.
The trees, which are mostly alders, are on state-owned trust land. Ocker said state and federal law allows for the sale of timber on those properties to support the state, typically in the form of education funding.
Most of the proposed sale near Summit Lake would go towards the University of Washington, Ocker added.
J.C. Davis, who lives next to the state-owned property, said “it felt really good” to hear the state was going to look into the county’s claims.
Davis and his wife started an online petition pleading for the state to cancel the sale. His family has owned property at the lake, surrounded by forests, since the 1950s.
“When we take away what makes it so peaceful, it becomes less special,” said Davis.
He knows the state has the legal right to sell the trees on the land next to his home. The state harvested it in the 1950s. Davis said that does not make it right.
“I think it’s time for them to take a look at their ancient policies,” said Davis. “That mindset isn’t for the modern world.”
Davis said he and others from the neighborhood are going to plead for the state to cancel the sale at Tuesday’s state Board of Natural Resources meeting.