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Fact-Checking
Statements by DNR.

If you received a response like this to a letter you sent to DNR, we explain point-by-point how DNR misrepresents its own data, ignores its own policies and procedures, and distort the facts in order to avoid accountability for the continued destruction of some of the last remaining legacy forests in Southwestern Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. 

What DNR Says:

DNR's Deputy Supervisor for State Uplands implies in his letter that DNR is serious about conserving biodiversity.

The Truth:

Representatives of DNR have stated publicly that state forestlands are not managed for biodiversity, but to generate revenue.  DNR plans to log all of the remaining older, un-planted forest in Capitol State Forest, and in many other small watersheds across the state, leaving behind only narrow buffer strips along larger streams.  This is inconsistent with their Habitat Conservation Plan, which requires that DNR manage state forest lands to provide "a variety of well-distributed, interconnected habitats" in order to support the continued presence of suitable habitat for each species "over as much of its historic range as possible", thereby ensuring the "successful reproduction of wide-ranging unlisted species". 

What DNR Says:

The Deputy Supervisor states in his letter that DNR's Habitat Conservation Plan and Policy for Sustainable Forests require them to protect old growth.

The Truth:

DNR was prepared to log up to 12 acres of old growth forest near Olympia, until we provided photo documentation of 400-year old trees to the Seattle Times.  More recently, DNR has publicly stated that there is nothing "even remotely close" to old growth in the Green Thomas timber sale, which was approved for auction on October 5th.  An independent stand age assessment, however, reveals that this timber sale would include the harvest of trees that are close to 200 years old.  Meanwhile, DNR continues to auction off hundreds of acres of century-old forests across Western Washington that exhibit old growth characteristics or contain legacy old growth trees. 

What DNR Says:

The Deputy Supervisor states in his letter that "about half of the DNR-managed forests in Western Washington (approximately 1.4 million acres) are managed to provide long term forest cover" for threatened and endangered species.

The Truth:

There are only 1.6 million acres of forest land in western Washington in total that are managed by DNR.  Spatial data we have obtained from DNR indicate that close to half of that area (about 735,000 acres) are currently unavailable for commercial timber harvest for various reasons. But it is not true that half of all state forest lands are managed for long-term forest cover (LTFC).

First, it is important to recognize that about 40,000 acres of those forest lands that are currently mapped as unavailable for harvest, are unavailable simply because they are currently considered to be inoperable or inaccessible by road.  These are not areas that are being managed to provide habitat for threatened or endangered species.  Furthermore, DNR has timber sales planned in many of these areas, which suggests that they expect they will be accessible in the future.  DNR consistently misclassifies these inaccessible areas as "conservation areas" or areas of long-term forest cover.
 
At least another 30,000 acres are classified as LTFC because they are are located on potentially unstable slopes.  Again, these areas are not being managed to provide habitat for threatened or endangered species.  In practice, the vast majority of areas that are mapped as potentially unstable slopes made available for harvest after they are ground-truthed during the mapping and surveying of the timber sales.
 
On top of that, DNR is counting many more tens of thousands of acres within spotted owl management units that they are allowed to harvest as LTFC.  Although there are restrictions on how much logging can occur within spotted owl habitat, it is misleading to classify all designated owl habitat as LTFC.  The Serenity Now timber sale, for example, which was approved by the BNR last summer, is located in an area that is classified as high quality "Type A" spotted owl habitat.
 
Most importantly, close to two-thirds of all areas that DNR refers to as long-term forest cover are located within narrow stream buffer strips, which are often dominated by alder, and do not provide fully functional, or interior forest habitat for threatened, endangered, or other species of concern that require this type of habitat.

It is also important to recognize that the amount of land being managed as LTFC varies significantly between counties, watersheds, and planning units.  For example, in Southwestern Washington (the "South Coast" planning unit), we estimate that only about 36% of the land base is "conserved" - and that includes all of the stream buffers.  If you exclude the stream buffers, only about 10% of the planning unit is truly off-limits to commercial logging, and about half of those "conservation areas" have actually been clearcut within the past 60 years.  If we just look at "legacy forests" (i.e. old growth and mature, pre-WWII, naturally regenerated second growth) that are protected within conservation areas in Southwest Washington, it all adds up to only about 3% of the South Coast planning unit.

What DNR Says:

Mr. Brodie states in his letter that there are about 138,000 acres of forest land over 80 years old are protected from timber harvest.

The Truth:

It is true that there is a lot of protected forest over 80 years old on state trust lands, but these protected older forests are mostly concentrated on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula and in the higher elevations of North Cascade mountains.  Protecting older forests up in the high Cascades does not mitigate or compensate for the fragmentation and logging of nearly all of the remaining larger blocks of older forest in southwestern Washington and the south Puget Sound region.

What DNR Says:

The Deputy Supervisor states in his letter that DNR is certified under the Sustainable Forest Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council standards. 

The Truth:

Nearly all public and private timber companies are certified under the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI).  SFI standards are rarely enforced, are less stringent than Washington State Forest Practices rules, allow for the logging of old growth, and are not intended to protect threatened and endangered species or to conserve biodiversity.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards are much more strict, and require that the forest landowner "shall not convert natural forest to plantations" except when that conversion will "produce clear, substantial, additional, secure long-term conservation benefits in the management unit."  DNR constantly violates this certification requirement by logging natural or un-planted older forests and converting them to tree plantations. 

What DNR Says:

The Deputy Supervisor states in his letter that every timber sale helps DNR to meet its financial obligations to generate revenue for specific beneficiaries. 

The Truth:

This statement is TRUE.  In fact, DNR's own Policy for Sustainable Forests states that DNR must act with undivided loyalty to the trust beneficiaries to the exclusion of all other interests.  This is despite the fact that the Washington State Constitution requires that state forestlands be managed for the benefit of all the people.  This policy is currently being challenged in the Washington State Supreme Court.