The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Commissioner gets surprise from DNR


August 24, 2017

Wahkiakum County Commissioner Dan Cothren reported Tuesday having a shock during a timberlands tour last Thursday sponsored by state Department of Natural Resources.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz, some members of the state Board of Natural Resources, DNR personnel, and representatives of environmental groups gathered in Cathlamet to tour state managed timber land and discuss issues related to managing them for marbled murrelets, and endangered species.

The agency is trying to finish a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the small birds, which commute from the ocean to inland nesting sites. As part of the plan, the state is proposing to close to harvest about 25 percent of the county's trust timberland, of which most lies in the northern reaches of the Skamokawa Creek basin.

The tour directors surprised Cothren, who has been working with the DNR for over 15 years on county harvest issues, by heading up Beaver Creek Road and Bradley Mountain on the south side of the Elochoman River basin and stopping by a patch of mature timber and telling people that the site was county trust timberland to be included in the HCP.

The site hasn't been included on maps showing the proposed conservation areas, Cothren said.

"I was blindsided," he commented Tuesday. "I knew there was one piece [further east] on Mill Creek, never on Beaver Creek."

Cothren added that he spoke vociferously against including the patch in HCP. Taking timber out of the harvest rotation, he said, based on speculation that it is habitat and there's not a bird there, takes away funding for county services.

"It's very disheartening," he said.

"Scientists say the bird won't be here in 20 years," commission Chair Blair Brady commented. "Do we get our land back? No, there's no way to return the land. It's a land grab.

"So at what point are we looking at a law suit?"

"We're not there yet," Cothren replied. "I don't want to burn any bridges. But it's in the back of people's minds."

Cothren added that Lands Commissioner Franz wants to set up a meeting to discuss issues; they're trying to find a suitable date.


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