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

Commissioners, public to meet with legislators


November 30, 2017

Wahkiakum County commissioners will meet with District 19 state legislators next Tuesday, and they're inviting the public to join the fun.

Coming at the end of the board's 11 a.m. session next Tuesday, the meeting is part of an effort by the Washington Association of Counties (WSAC ) to have local officials discuss issues and needs with legislators. Expected participants include Sen. Dean Takko and Representatives Brian Blake and Jim Walsh, and a representative from WSAC.

Commissioners have topics in mind to discuss with the legislators, and they invite the public to attend and provide input.

Commissioners already have a couple issues they'll want to discuss, including the legislature's failure to pass the Capital Budget and also the county's relationship with state resource agencies.

The two houses of the legislature, controlled by different political parties, are hung up on a demand to include a solution to the dilemma posed by the state Supreme Court's Hirsch Decision, which has had the effect of mandating that people wanting to develop in rural areas go through costly studies to prove their wells won't adversely affect aquifers.

The lack of Capital Budget had cut a variety of funding to counties since the July 1 start of the state's fiscal year.

Wahkiakum commissioners are also upset with state resource agencies.

Commissioner Dan Cothren expressed anger with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's management of elk hunting seasons. Hoof rot disease has decimated herds, he said, and season after season has hunters taking the remaining healthy animals, including impregnated cows.

"I'm so fed up with fish and game," said Cothren, a life-long hunter. "This is the worst season I've ever seen. There are zero animals. There are fish, but no game.

"You have hoof rot decimating elk. How can you increase the seasons? It's crazy. You need to clean house."

Commissioners are also looking for legislative help in increasing the county's timberlands. About 3,000 of the county's 12,000 acres of trust timberland have been reserved as endangered species habitat, and commissioners have been working with the Department of Natural Resources to develop legislation which would trade the encumbered timberland for harvestable timberland.

Cothren said counties should pressure the federal government to provide some compensation for the loss of revenue off the trust timberland, for it was the federal government which instigated the habitat conservation areas for endangered species.

There's a precedent for that, Cothren said.

"They opened the door when they gave $30 million to the Quinault tribe and let them keep their land," he said.


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