We urge you to cancel DNR's "Aldwell" timber sale, located in the Elwha River Watershed, just a few miles west of the town of Port Angeles.
The State’s intention to log this legacy forest runs counter to the Federal Government’s extensive efforts (which includes spending over $327 million) to restore the Elwha Watershed, Protecting this forest is critical to preserving biodiversity and sequestering carbon.
The Elwha River Watershed is also of critical importance to the City's residents who rely on the Elwha River for their drinking water. The Little River Tributary is vital habitat for listed and endangered salmonids that are now accessing portions of the upper Elwha and tributaries that have not been accessed for over 100 years. Among many concerns is that road reconstruction along Indian Creek could severely impact important fish habitat in this tributary to the Elwha.
It is important to protect the few remaining, natural "legacy" forests that are left on state managed forest lands. These forests are an important part of our natural heritage, and function as ecological "lifeboats" for a wide variety of plant and wildlife species, and hundreds of lesser-known species of insects, lichens, bryophytes, mushrooms, and other fungi.
Natural legacy forests like those found in the "Aldwell" timber sale are different from other managed (or planted) forests in a number of ways. The most obvious difference is that the trees are much larger than in managed forests. Many of the dominant trees in this timber sale measure more than 4 feet in diameter and are over 180 feet tall.
Walk through these forests, and you will find they contain multiple canopy layers, composed of a wide variety of trees of different sizes. Gaps in the overstory canopy allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, creating a complex mosaic of different plant communities composed of a diverse array of small trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Standing dead trees and logs provide critical nesting habitat for small mammals, and countless other forms of life.
These forests provide learning opportunities for students and scientists to better understand how they function, are popular recreational destinations for hunters, hikers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. There is also strong evidence that older forests and the large trees contained within the “Aldwell” timber sale store and absorb a disproportionate amount of carbon from the atmosphere, thus slowing the rate of climate change.
There is no defense for logging this forest. DNR forest inventory records reveal that there are thousands of acres of plantation forests managed by DNR in Clallam County alone that are currently available for harvest. Plantation forests hold more than enough timber to satisfy overall sustainable harvest targets for the current planning decade, and fulfill DNR's current commitments to Clallam County and other income recipients.
Please put a stop to the destruction of these irreplaceable forests and cancel the "Aldwell" sale.