To Chair Franz and the Board of Natural Resources:
We, the undersigned residents of Washington State, call on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to cancel the “Sure Wood” Timber Sale and work with Mason County Climate Justice and the residents of Mason County to protect the Sherwood State Forest as a natural area preserve.
The Sure Wood timber sale is located in the Central Puget Sound Lowland ecoregion, which is the most heavily developed and imperiled ecoregion in Washington State. This timber sale would clear-cut almost 160 acres of 80-100 year old forest in the Sherwood State Forest, including individual trees that are more than a century old.
Mason County contains almost no remaining old or natural forests. The vast majority of the forests in Mason County are managed as tree plantations, and composed mostly of even-aged stands of Douglas fir. The Sherwood State Forest contains some of the oldest and most biologically diverse forests that remain in east Mason County, an area that is experiencing rapid growth and urban development.
This State Forest also has miles of frontage along Sherwood Creek. The Sherwood Creek watershed is one of the few lowland watersheds in the Puget Sound region that is still mostly forested. The proposed timber sale would alter the hydrology within the Sherwood Creek watershed, and impair precious salmon and wildlife habitat.
It is important to protect the few remaining, natural lowland legacy forests that are left. These old legacy forests naturally regenerated after they were selectively logged in the early 1900’s. They are an important part of our natural heritage, and function as ecological "lifeboats" for a wide variety of plant and wildlife species, and hundreds of lesser-known species of insects, lichens, bryophytes, mushrooms, and other fungi.
Walk through these forests, and you will find they contain multiple canopy layers, composed of a wide variety of trees of different sizes. Gaps in the overstory canopy allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, creating a complex mosaic of different plant communities composed of a diverse array of small trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Standing dead trees and logs provide critical nesting habitat for small mammals, and countless other forms of life.
The decision to specifically target this rare forest ecosystem for commercial logging defies the objectives of the State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, violates established Board of Natural Resources policies and procedures, and undermines efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and combat climate change.
There is no defense for logging this forest. DNR forest inventory records reveal that there are thousands of acres of plantation forests on state trust lands in the South Puget Sound region that are currently available for harvest. Plantation forests hold more than enough timber to satisfy overall sustainable harvest targets for the current planning decade, and fulfill DNR's current commitments to Mason County and other beneficiaries. There is no need to clear-cut this forest. To be clear, the recommendation by the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources to clear-cut this stand is a choice that is made by the Commissioner and DNR. DNR is not fulfilling a mandate or following best available science by logging these old legacy forests.
Almost all of the revenue from this timber sale will be distributed to school districts in Seattle and other large urban centers. Instead of selling its oldest forests to timber companies to generate unneeded revenue for urban school districts, the Department of Natural Resources should work with the local community to protect and restore this incredible place.