To Chair Franz and the Board of Natural Resources:
The undersigned urge you to cancel DNR's "Sprinter" timber sale, located just a few miles west of Olympia.
Almost all of the natural forests that once dominated the south end Puget Sound have been logged. The 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 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 "Sprinter" 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. 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 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 "Sprinter" 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 on lands managed by DNR in Thurston County 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 income recipients. There is no need to clearcut this forest. To be clear, the recommendation by Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources to clear-cut this forest is a choice that is made by the Commissioner and DNR. This timber sale will do little to create or sustain jobs in Washington, as the larger timber is typically sold to out-of-state logging contractors. DNR is not fulfilling a mandate or following best available science by logging these natural legacy forests.
We are not asking DNR to end logging on state forest lands. We simply ask that you protect the last best remaining lowland legacy forests, which occupy less than ten percent of all state forest lands managed by DNR in Thurston County. Please put a stop to the destruction of these irreplaceable forests and cancel the "Sprinter" sale. We must find other sources of income for recipient beneficiaries to replace long-term timber revenue. In the midst of a global biodiversity and climate crisis, harvesting legacy forests is NOT a long-term solution. We must do better.