It is heartening to read state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark’s guest editorial, in which he emphasizes the connection between Washington’s forests and climate change. Indeed, intact Washington forests provide some of the best carbon sinks in the world.
Washingtonians should know, however, that the Department of Natural Resources does not manage forests in a manner intended to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In fact, DNR currently logs under a regime designed to maximize revenue without regard to climate. To make a real difference, Commissioner Goldmark could do the following:
▪ Recognize the overwhelming scientific consensus that growing older trees stores more carbon than the short-term, industrial forestry often practiced in Washington.
▪ Adopt a science-based long-term conservation strategy for the imperiled marbled murrelet. Every tree saved for nesting marbled murrelets will also help to provide clean water and to serve as a sponge for carbon.
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▪ Amend the 2006 Policy for Sustainable Forests to address climate change, including protection for all old-growth trees and stands.
▪ When setting timber harvest levels, recognize that intact forests deliver substantial financial value through carbon storage and water protection.
▪ Quit clearcutting and salvage logging eastside forests and turning them into plantations. It is a lose-lose-lose proposition: Dense plantations fuel future forest fires, which risk public safety and emit carbon.
▪ With more rain than snow forecast, eliminate logging roads that dump sediment into streams and exacerbate flooding.
Adopting these measures would move DNR into its rightful place as a national leader on climate change.