Washington state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently held a timber auction to sell off part of a 180-acre patch of state forestland where some of the state’s largest Douglas firs have stood through more than a hundred years of logging. The sale netted the state $4.2 million, and the trees were headed for a plywood mill. Then came a surprise … the state commissioner of public lands, Hillary Frantz, removed nearly 40 acres from the site sale, the place where most of the biggest and oldest trees are located. The surprising move not to sell those 40 acres has fostered a new dialogue within the state. Washington, the home to the second largest lumber producer in the nation, is beginning the process of rethink the value of trees on state lands not as logs, but as trees to help address the twin crises of species extinction and climate warming. To that end, Franz is kicking off an examination over the next three to four months of all older forests on DNR lands west of the Cascades not already in conservation status — about 10,000 acres. Frantz noted that unlike her predecessors, she does not want to gradually stop all commercial harvest of state forests west of the Cascades. She is concerned about preserving local timber supplies, mills, jobs, and payments made from timber revenue to state trust beneficiaries for school construction and local government needs. But she does want to take a new look at older trees. Not the old growth the state already protects, sprouted before 1850, among other characteristics. The older trees that are the giants of tomorrow. Franz sees an opportunity to take a broader, more holistic view and create meaningful change that extends beyond the Capitol State Forest.
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State Proposal Aims to Save Washington State Forests for Carbon Storage, Not Logging