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

Land trust, commission discuss restoration goals


December 27, 2018

Wahkiakum County Commissioners met last Wednesday with representatives from Columbia Land Trust (CLT) to discuss common goals and local projects.

CLT owns property in the Grays River and the Elochoman valleys.

“Within the last year or so, we’ve talked about common goals at that meeting of flood enhancement districts,” Stewardships Director Ian Sinks said. “We outlined things around flood frequency and magnitude, flood secure communities, sustainable agriculture, sustainable forests and forest economy, healthy fish populations, wildlife populations, recreational access, cultural and historic resources as common goals we’ve heard over the years and we haven’t revisited this so much, but they’re still true today.”

“I would agree with your overall goals,” Commissioner Brady said, “but they haven’t changed, and we really haven’t made much progress in the 11-12 years I’ve been doing this. It’s frustrating. As much for you guys as it is for us.”

“Can I bring up the 800 pound gorilla?” Brady added. “Fish passage. Billions of dollars. Our county is not going to be able to afford, without a lot of state, federal, tribal, whomever’s help, to improve any of the passages.”

“I think we’ve got some momentum here to where we can start looking at this as a bigger picture instead of piecemeal or small solutions,” Rudy Salakory, Aquatic Habitat Restoration Program Manager for the Cowlitz Tribe, said. “I think we’re building up a head of steam where we can look at a two or three decade approach to trying to work on the entire Grays River system. We’re trying to get everybody on the same page. I think we’re mostly there. I think we can do it.”

Sinks introduced Forest Conservation Director Cherie Kearney, who is working on an encumbered lands project and involved in the statewide community forest conversation and movement.

“We see some convergence in those topics in the Grays River in Wahkiakum County,” Sinks said.

Cothren admitted he was turned off to the idea of community forests when Kearney initially brought up the matter.

“We would lose pull on the land,” Cothren said.

“Our goal is to have more trees cut here and the ones that can’t be cut be put into a status that isn’t burdening the county,” Kearney said, who noted that the definition of community forests was evolving.

“The old legislation was through DNR,” she said. “What I’m talking about are places like the City of Ilwaco or Klickitat County. They have their own vision for the forests they own. For such a forested community as you are, you should at least know about this, even if there is nothing in it for you.”

Commissioners were receptive to the new concept for community forests which includes local control, local benefits, rather than the historical definition

Everyone shared an interest in protecting the watershed, decreasing erosion and siltation, and maintaining or increasing the “footprint of the forests and forestry.”


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