Help Save the Public Land Around Wallace Falls State Park In Gold Bar from Heavy Logging

snohomish county can tell the state to reconvey the west (non-motorized) side of Reiter Foothills back to the county to use as a park.
but first the middle may timber sale needs to be postponed.

The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is leading the way in pursuing options to preserve this land and has told Snohomish County Council and Department of Natural Resources they would like the opportunity to discuss this further, government-to-government, with the County.

They were successful in getting the Madera timber sale postponed 3 months, but in order to give their vision for preserving that area a chance, DNR needs to postpone the Middle May timber sale (scheduled for Nov. 30) as well.


Update 11/24/20:  Important - Please email County Executive Dave Somers TODAY (and CC the Snohomish County Council) using the info below.

1. Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive  - [email protected]
425-388-3050 

2. Snohomish County Council (5 members)  - 
[email protected]
425-388-3494

 Tell them you want DNR to postpone the Middle May timber sale (scheduled for Nov. 30) for 3 months so that the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has time to discuss their vision for preserving this land with the County.

What's Planned: DNR's Logging Plan for Public Land Around Gold Bar

Management plan data courtesy of Department of Natural Resources - 2020

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to extensively log the 5,000-acre western half of Reiter Foothills Forest (public land) near Gold Bar. This will have long term negative consequences for Wallace Falls State Park, and ultimately will harm the Sky Valley economy and environment. 

 Red Areas  = managed for 'Variable Retention Harvest', which leaves 8 trees per acre (removes 97% of trees). Variable Retention Harvest looks and feels like a clear cut.

 Light Green Areas  = managed for 'Variable Density Thinning', which removes 30% of trees.

 Purple Area  = Wallace Falls State Park, which receives over 225,000 visitors per year.


Update on Current Timber Sales:

The Brushcrasher sale was sold in March 2020 and is currently being logged (Fall 2020).

The Variable Retention Harvest portion of Brushcrasher (shown in red) is the big new clear-cut along the border of Wallace Falls State Park that you can see for miles when driving east on Highway 2.

The Madera timber sale was postponed 90 days thanks to action by the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe in early November.

Close-up of Brushcrasher timber sale

The controversial Middle May sale is now scheduled for auction on November 30, 2020... but it can still be removed from the auction list.

The Snohomish County Council just needs to tell DNR they are looking into options for turning the land into a park instead.


Map of the Middle May Timber Sale - Auction Date 11/30/20
Map of Middle May timber sale near Gold Bar

Proposed Middle May timber sale near Gold Bar - data courtesy of Department of Natural Resources - 2020

 Purple Area  = Wallace Falls State Park near Gold Bar.

 Light Blue Borders  = Middle May timber sale areas (Variable Retention Harvest = removing 97% of trees).

 Yellow Stars  = 5 new logging truck bridges.

 Red Line  = 6 miles of new logging road.


Update 11/24/20:  Important - please email County Executive Dave Somers TODAY (and CC the Snohomish County Council) using the info below.

1. Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive  - [email protected]
425-388-3050 

2. Snohomish County Council (5 members)  - 
[email protected]
425-388-3494

 Tell them you want DNR to postpone the Middle May timber sale (scheduled for Nov. 30) for 3 months so that the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has time to discuss their vision for preserving this land with the County.

Problems with the Middle May Sale and DNR's Logging Plan for Gold Bar
  1. 1
    Very few people seem to know about it. DNR says it has been discussed to death and the "in crowd" of timber companies, public logging revenue beneficiaries, and user groups who want logging roads all appear to be in the loop, but most regular citizens of the Sky Valley have no idea this is all set to happen.
  2. 2
    The Middle May sale would change Gold Bar forever and open up the entire hillside for more logging. It's the jewel in the crown - old, valuable trees and permission to build five bridges that finally provide access to the forest between May Creek and the Wallace River.
  3. 3
    The Middle May sale means even more clear-cuts next to Wallace Falls State Park. Variable Retention Harvest removes 97% of the trees. This, along with 5 logging bridges and 6 miles of logging roads, will impact the views (and property values) in Gold Bar for decades.
  4. 4
    The logging plan for Reiter Foothills would devastate a little-known ecological gem. The 5,000 acres we want to preserve contains trees over 100 years old, hidden waterfalls, and lookout points with sweeping views of the Sky Valley. It's a crucial hub that connects four key wild areas - Wallace Falls State Park, the Wild Sky Wilderness, the Morning Star Natural Resource Conservation Area, and Forks of the Sky State Park.
  5. 5
    DNR says logging roads will provide non-motorized recreation trails, but.... do hikers really want to hike on logging roads past piles of slash? There's already a good network of old trails in the 5,000 acres we want to preserve, and plenty of volunteers willing to help improve them and build more.
  6. 6
    DNR's management plan no longer meets the needs of the public. The running argument for the Middle May sale is "We've been discussing this for years, let's just get it done." But this logic is flawed. The world has changed drastically in just the last few years.  The rationalization "We've been discussing this for too long" only makes it even more clear that DNR's logging plan is behind the times and doesn't reflect what the majority of taxpayers need or want NOW.
  7. 7
    DNR's logging plan puts local waterways at risk due to runoff and erosion. Just look at how close the Brushcrasher and Moonbeam sale clear-cuts are to the North Wallace River and tributaries. Once a salmon-bearing waterway is harmed, the damage is done - no matter how much expensive mitigation follows.
Moonbeam and Brushcrasher timber sale clear cuts

Wondering How This All Works? (Whose Land Is It Anyway?)
 how the lands became public 

Most of Reiter Foothills Forest is Forest Board Land. Long ago these lands belonged to the County.

This is because in the early 1900's a lot of land was foreclosed upon by the County after the owners didn't pay their property taxes. Eventually the County asked the State to manage these Forest Board lands, which is what DNR now does.

 how timber sales happen 

Private timber companies buy the rights to log Forest Board lands through auctions of timber sales that have been approved by the Board of Natural Resources (BNR, the board that sets policy for DNR).

The revenue from these timber sales gets distributed several ways:  to DNR (usually 25%), and to the County, including local tax beneficiaries such as the school district where a sale is located. (It goes for construction and maintenance, not teacher salaries or equipment.)

 DNR's "Maximum Revenue" Philosophy 

Because of a lawsuit in the 1980's, DNR manages its public lands for maximum revenue.

In other words, if it can be legally logged, it will be logged. That's why DNR logs like there's no tomorrow. 

 Reconveyance for a Public Park 

However... there's a Washington state law that says the County can ask for its land back without having to pay for the land, just the cost of the transfer - as long as the land is used for a public park. This transfer is called a "Reconveyance". (RCW 79.22.300.)

To get a reconveyance, at least three of the five Snohomish County Council Members need to vote in favor of a resolution to reconvey the land back to the County for a public park. If they do, DNR does not have the option to say no.

 Why the Middle May Timber Sale is Crucial 

Logging Middle May would cut the heart out of the proposed new 5,000-acre park and would open up the entire hillside for further planned logging.


Here's What to Do Now If You Don't Want 'This':
Update 11/24/20:  Important - please email County Executive Dave Somers TODAY (and CC the Snohomish County Council) using the info below.

1. Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive  - [email protected]
425-388-3050 

2. Snohomish County Council (5 members)  - 
[email protected]
425-388-3494

 Tell them you want DNR to postpone the Middle May timber sale (scheduled for Nov. 30) for 3 months so that the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has time to discuss their vision for preserving this land with the County.
Thank you for supporting the beautiful Skykomish Valley!