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DNR's Carbon Project:
What Does It Accomplish?

In April, Washington State Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz announced that the she was setting aside 10,000 acres of state forest land for "sequestration and storage" and to protect "critical forest areas" that meet certain criteria.  According to articles published in the Seattle Times and Everett Herald, a total of 3,750 acres of forest land have been "set aside" so far as part of Franz's "Carbon Project".  The remaining 6,250 acres, according to the Herald, will be selected within the next year.

 

The project will protect hundreds of acres of older forests that might have otherwise been logged.  However, an independent analysis of the areas included in "phase one" of the project reveals that the project is not all that it appears to be.

WRITE to Hilary Franz

What DNR Says:

According to the Seattle Times article, published on April 6th of this year, "10,000 acres of older trees in Western Washington scheduled for harvest on state lands instead will be conserved in the state's first public carbon reserve." The Times article states that "Phase one has identified about 3,750 of those acres now," with the "balance yet to be identified for preservation in phase two."  According to the Times, the new "carbon reserve" is "the result of a commitment [Franz] made a year ago to step back from harvest of the state’s older forests."  DNR's website claims that these forests had been "slated for imminent harvest".

The Facts:

New protected areas total less than 2,000 acres.  Data obtained from DNR's Public Disclosure Office reveals that less than 2,000 acres were actually conserved under Phase one of Franz's Carbon Project.  Although "phase one" boundaries include a total of 3,456 acres of land, 1,468 of those acres were already off-limits to commercial logging, because they are located within legally-required stream buffers (see maps below).

 

Not all forests included in phase one are older forests.  Nearly one-quarter of newly protected forests are less than 60 years old.  Only about 1,147 acres out of the 3,750 acres DNR claims to have protected under Phase one can be classified as newly protected "legacy" forests.

 

Only about half of the 1,147 acres of legacy forests protected under phase (less than 600 acres) one had actually been scheduled for harvest.

The Carbon Project is Franz's response to almost a year of intense public pressure and protects only a small fraction of the remaining legacy forests of Southwestern Washington and in the Puget Sound lowlands.  Meanwhile, DNR is planning to clearcut thousands of acres of similar legacy forests in other lowland watersheds of Western Washington.

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Actual Acres of Legacy Forests Protected

Based on data obtained from DNR's Public Disclosure Office.

Areas Protected Under Phase 1

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Key

Legacy Forests

Legally Required Stream Buffers (Already Protected)

Recent Clearcuts

Write to Commissioner Franz Today!

Tell her to keep her promise to protect 10,000 acres of 120-year old legacy forests in Western Washington.

You will have the opportunity to personalize your comments after clicking or tapping SEND.

 

Dear Commissioner Franz,

 

Last year, you made a promise to protect 10,000 acres of forests originating prior to 1900 for "biodiversity, carbon storage, water quality, and recreation."  On April 6, you insisted that it is necessary to save these forests "to save ourselves".  Yet a day earlier, on April 5, you announced that you were ending the moratorium on the logging of forests originating prior to 1900, thus breaking the promise you made just a year earlier.

We are in the midst of a global warming crisis.  Now is not the time to be logging 120-old trees, or replacing fire resistant older forests with young, fire-prone tree plantations that are susceptible to future climate disturbances, and may increase the fire risk to nearby residential areas.  The logging of mature legacy forests on DNR managed lands also violates Board of Natural Resources policies intended to preserve older forests, which dictate that structurally complex forests may be considered for harvest only after older forest have been met.

 

Please keep your promise and protect these irreplaceable, 120-year old legacy forests.

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hilary.franz@dnr.wa.gov