County revenue will benefit from hot timber market
Covid-19 response discussed
June 17, 2021
A hot timber market should boost Wahkiakum County revenue, representatives of the state Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday.
Also at Tuesday's meeting of the county board of commissioners, citizens and commissioners resumed discussion of how they'd like to address restrictive guidelines mandated to counter the covid-19 pandemic.
DNR Regional Manager Eric Wisch and District Manager Padraig Callahan had good news and bad news.
The good news is that the timber market continues to be hot, and that is boosting the potential revenue from the harvest on county trust timberland.
The sale scheduled for this year, Irish Coffee Sorts, should generate around $1.6 million for the county, much higher than estimated last fall.
The agency is also bringing out a small 23-acre sale that should generate at least $343,500, Callahan said. The agency has extended the contract on this sale to end in 2022, so it will create revenue this year and next.
Revenue from the main sale planned for 2022, Elochomotive Sorts, is estimated at $1.3 million, Callahan said, and could go higher.
"The market is really hot and it looks like it will go into next year," he said.
The bad news is that a newly formed environmental group, the Center for Responsible Forestry, has challenged the Elochomotive Sorts sale, which is set to go out to bid in July.
"They're expressing alternate thoughts on management across all the trusts the agency manages, including Wahkiakum County's," Wisch said.
Commissioner Dan Cothren had previously discussed this issue with DNR staff and recommended they look for more small sales that could be ready if Elochomotive Sorts is held up.
He also pointed out that the volume of county timber ready for harvest will be high in the next few years and recommended that the agency spread out the harvest so that there's not a big influx of revenue followed by a quick drop as the harvestable volume is reduced.
The county needs a sustained volume for harvest, he said, adding that the revenue is very important for county operations.
John McKinley and Season Long, who have spoken during the meeting's public comment time the past two weeks, again raised concerns over covid-19 vaccine safety and state mandates for wearing of masks and asked what citizens could do to help county officials address these concerns with state officials.
Commission Chair Gene Strong responded that citizens should contact legislators to make their concerns known. That would complement the efforts of commissioners and local health department personnel who have been pressing state officials for more local control over pandemic response.
"I've watched them [Legislative District 19 senator and representatives] and they're trying to represent the people of the district," Strong said.
"You guys have been here the last few meetings," said Commissioner Dan Cothren, "and the word gets out."
Other speakers suggested county officials look into effects of shedding of vaccines and a resolution the City of Tumwater adopted to address the concerns.