DNR updates county's timber revenue estimates

Columbia Street speeds discussed


March 16, 2023

Wahkiakum County should receive $1.7 million in revenue this year from harvest of timber on state managed trust lands, the Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday.

The estimate is a bit lower than the $1.8 million reported last October, said DNR Regional Manager Padraic Callahan.

The revenue total will depend on the final volume of wood to come off a sale currently being logged, Callahan said, and the lower estimate reflects a conservative total that could increase depending on volume.

Otherwise, Callahan said the DNR view of the timber market is that it is in decent shape with really good prices from mills.

"The mills still want wood," he said. The shortage of housing is creating a demand for lumber for construction of houses and apartments, he said.

Looking ahead to 2024, county trust sales should generate about $1.5 million, he said.

Commissioner Dan Cothren, who works for a private timber company, said the private sector has concerns that the markets are softening and are cutting back on their harvest plans.

"You're pretty upbeat," Cothren commented on Callahan's report. He noted that the DNR has different markets than the private sector which can affect prices.

Factors other than the housing shortage are affecting markets, said DNR Assistant District Manager Steve Ogden. Last year's late fire season in the region restricted some harvest, and the current snow pack keeps loggers working in lower elevations, all of which lower supply.

So far, he added, the agency hasn't heard from loggers that conditions have made harvests financially unfeasible.

In other business, two Cathlamet residents asked for county help in reducing traffic speeds on Columbia Street.

Since the state lowered the speed limit on SR 4 to 35 miles per hour in the Cathlamet area, much of the traffic headed west into town has diverted onto Columbia Street and created safety issues, said Bill Wainwright.

A county speed study showed the average speed was 27 mph, but there are drivers going 25 mph in an area where people have to parallel park along the road, he said, and the speeding vehicles are passing a foot away from people getting in and out of parked cars. This has led to some severe altercations.

Wainwright offered three solutions:

1. Install some speed humps designed for 25 mph speeds;

2. Install a solar powered flashing sign showing speed, and

3. Have occasional law enforcement presence.

"People know it's not enforced," he said. "I encourage you to be proactive before somebody gets killed."

A neighbor echoed Wainwright's comments and strongly supported increased traffic patrol, or even a speed camera that could ticket speeders.

The issue is also being discussed by the Cathlamet Town Council.

From SR 4 to Alder Street, Columbia Street is a county road. From Jacobson Road to Alder Street, land on each side of the street is within the city limits.


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