To Hilary Franz, WA State Lands Commissioner:
The undersigned local residents and patrons of Capitol State Forest urge you to cancel the planned auction of the "Crush" timber sale.
Almost all of the old growth forests that once populated the south end of Puget Sound have been logged. The South Puget Sound lowlands are now covered mostly by urban and residential developments, agricultural fields, and industrial forestlands. It is important to protect the few remaining, natural "legacy" forests that are left. These forests are an important part of our natural heritage, and may 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 "Crush" 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 over 4 feet in diameter and are close to 200 feet tall. Because these forests were often selectively logged or "high-graded" in the early 1900's, and allowed to grow back on their own, they are also much more structurally and biologically diverse.
Walk through this forest, and you will find that it contains 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. Large volumes of downed wood, and standing dead trees, provide critical nesting habitat for small mammals, and countless other forms of life, and represent "legacies" of the original old growth forests.
These forests also 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. The popular hiking and biking trail that runs through the "Crush" timber sale, lined with towering old Douglas fir legacy trees, and large, mossy old-growth maple trees, is one of the most beautiful trails in Capitol State Forest. There is also strong evidence that older forests and the large trees contained within the "Crush" 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 in Capitol State Forest 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 Thurston County and other beneficiaries. There is no need to clearcut this forest. To be clear, this is a choice that is made by DNR. These timber sales do little to create or sustain jobs in Washington, as the timber is typically sold to out-of-state logging contractors, and DNR is not fulfilling a mandate or following best available science by logging these natural legacy forests.
Please put a stop to the destruction of the last remaining legacy forests in the South Puget Sound lowlands, and cancel this timber sale.