A to Z Hearing Video
Since publishing the A to Z blog post, readers have been asking how the court appearance actually went. Many of you may know how to find these videos, but in case you didn’t here it is. This is the 34-minute video of the appeal hearing. It was quite interesting to be there in person.
The courtroom wasn’t full, maybe less than a quarter capacity. Of those in attendance, most were there to show support for the A to Z project. It was great to have the support of Sustainable Northwest, The Nature Conservancy, The Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, Pend Oreille County Commissioner, Karen Skoog, and special thanks, to The American Forest Resource Council. Lawson Fite, AFRC attorney, represented the collaborative interveners. His testimony is near the end of the hearing. These people were in attendance to ensure the court knew that this project was truly collaborative.
As of the time this blog is published, we don’t know the decision of the judges. We remain hopeful that the good work in the forest will continue. The group that worked on this did their very best to influence a project that was balancing the needs of forest thinning with wildlife habitat and clean water. The early indications from the project are all overwhelmingly positive. The forest looks amazing as it gets back to a natural spacing. The forest can now withstand fire when it comes, which is a far cry from the condition it was in.
Sustainable Northwest Summer Board meeting in Colville
Two weeks following the appeal hearing, the SNW Board had the opportunity to go into the woods and tour the project. Seeing first hand what the forest looked like before and what it looks like immediately after restoration work. It was a great time to provide a Q & A to better understand the goals of the project.
Forest Industry Infrastructure Creates Value
The following day the group had the opportunity to visit the Vaagen Bros. Lumber mill in Colville. Seeing both the work in the woods and then the way the small logs were turned into lumber, chips, biomass, sawdust, and shavings created a clear picture of the value created from and for the forest. Having healthy forest industry infrastructure helps offset the cost of forest management.
In the case of Northeast Washington, the infrastructure is so well developed that the Forest Service actually gets retained receipts from the products (logs). These retained receipts are able to fund other forest restoration work and we hope even more. If we build more right-sized infrastructure we might be able to solve funding issues for other parts of the Forest Service like recreation, road maintenance, and possibly even money back to the counties.
With fires burning again and homes being threatened and destroyed at an increasing rate, changes will be made. We need to engage and make sure that we create a positive future for our forests. There are some legislative bills in Washington DC that have many people talking. We need comprehensive engagement so we can make changes that benefit everyone and the forest.