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RodF
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PostThu Mar 15, 2012 5:21 pm 
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Summary
Roadless Areas
Roaded Areas
Intent of Wilderness?
Permanence?
Public Process?
Prospects?
Appendix: Roads
References

Summary

The "Wild Olympics Campaign" seeks "instant designation" by Congress of 130,000 acres of additional Wilderness within Olympic National Forest. 

Of this, 80,000 acres are roadless areas which, under current law "shall be reviewed with Wilderness as an option" in the next Forest Plan, expected to begin in four years, anyway [1].  The "Wild Olympics" campaign is unnecessary for continued protection of these roadless areas.

However, the additional 50,000 acres include at least 65 miles of existing roads and 12,400 acres of former clearcuts which are now eligible for restoration thinning [2].  All of this area is currently protected under the Northwest Forest Plan as Late Successional Reserve, with the goal of developing old growth characteristics and habitat.  Thinning removes the smallest plantation trees, leaving naturally seeded trees of other species (cedar, pine, maple, etc.), releasing the growth of the largest trees, increasing forest diversity, and accelerating the development of old growth characteristics. 

Thinning and road decommissioning are precluded by "instant designation" as Wilderness.  "Instant designation" directly conflicts with achieving the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan.  The "Wild Olympics" campaign is bad stewardship of these roaded and logged areas.

Roadless Areas

Olympic National Forest inventoried 85,807 acres of unroaded areas in its current Forest Plan [3].  Detailed studies and maps of each of these 85,800 acres of unroaded areas are in its 165-page Appendix C.  Since adoption of the Forest Plan in 1990 and its revision in 1994 in compliance with the Northwest Forest Plan, these areas became Late Successional Reserves and have remained essentially untouched.


The majority of these areas are adjacent to existing Wilderness areas.  The exceptions are three isolated ridges encircled by roads: Mt. Zion, Green Mountain near Quilcene, and Moonlight Dome ridge in the Humptulips drainage.

The "Wild Olympics" wilderness proposal excludes Mt. Zion, because of its small size and to allow continued mountain bike use of trails.  It also ignores the McDonald creek roadless area.  Remaining inventoried roadless areas proposed as Wilderness under the "Wild Olympics" campaign total 79,932 acres. 

In 2002-3 , Olympic National Forest conducted a public Access and Travel Management Plan process [3].  This prioritized the maintenance or decommissioning of roads.  As a result of decommissioning accomplished so far, the unroaded areas have growth slightly, by a few thousand acres, notably in the Gold Creek and Dry Creek drainages. 

The Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984 (PL 98-339, Section 5(b)(2)) provides that areas still in an unroaded condition when the current  Forest Plan is revised shall be reviewed with Wilderness as an option [1].  The Wilderness Eligibility Study mandated by this law as part of the upcoming Forest Plan revision is expected to begin in 2016.  USFS has a well-defined, public process for evaluating and recommending wilderness [4].

As these unroaded areas are currently managed as de facto wilderness, I expect the majority to be recommended as Wilderness in the next Forest Plan.  It will then be up to Congress to act on the USFS wilderness recommendation.

Roaded Areas

The "Wild Olympics" campaign extends its proposed wilderness additions onto 50,000 acres of roaded and logged areas. 

This includes 65 miles of inventoried USFS system roads (see Appendix, below), plus an unknown mileage of unclassified roads (mostly abandoned logging spurs).  These areas include a mix of roads which are planned to remain open, roads planned for future decommissioning when they are no longer needed for access to complete thinning operations, and roads which can be decommissioned whenever funds become available (generally, from revenues from commercial thinning). 

These areas include 12,400 acres eligible for restoration thinning [2].  All of this area is currently protected under the Northwest Forest Plan as Late Successional Reserve, with the goal of developing old growth characteristics and habitat.  Thinning removes the smallest plantation trees, leaving naturally seeded trees of other species (cedar, pine, maple, etc.).  Thinning releases the growth of the largest trees, increasing forest structural and species diversity, and accelerates the development of old growth characteristics. 

Thinning and road decommissioning would be precluded by "instant designation" as Wilderness. 

"Instant designation" directly conflicts with achieving the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan.  These roaded areas should remain Late Successional Reserve for another Forest Plan cycle.

Intent of Wilderness?

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.  An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value." - Wilderness Act (emphasis added) [5]

Do the "Wild Olympics" proposals all meet the intent of Wilderness?

The 8344-acre Elk-Reade area near Forks is an illustrative roaded area advocated for wilderness in the "Wild Olympics" campaign.  Much of the area was roaded and logged in the 1980s.  The proposal includes the clearcuts and excludes the network of logging roads, many of which are gated closed anyway. 

The nearby 6168-acre Rugged Ridge area is an illustrative unroaded area.  Roads were built in its east end, and parts of the rest of this narrow ridge was clearcut using skylines from the ridge across the Sitkum River to the road.

In the 1970s, the USFS conducted a national review of all roadless areas for the purpose of selecting new wilderness study areas.  Elk-Reade had a quality index of 67 out of 200 (and that was before it was logged), and Rugged Ridge a score of 42 out of 200, measured against the criteria expressed above in the Wilderness Act [6].

Do 65 miles of existing roads and 12,400 acres of clearcuts meet the criteria for designation as "instant Wilderness"?  Not until thinning is completed and roads are decommissioned should Late Successional Reserves become eligible for wilderness.  It is essential to follow through on the Northwest Forest Plan, enhance the old growth character of these areas, remove the roads, and only then consider them for wilderness.  "Instant designation" precludes responsible stewardship of these former clearcuts.

In short, we have all the "grade A" Wilderness that exists in the Olympics already, and will get all the "grade B" unroaded wilderness without the "Wild Olympics" campaign.  Do we want the additional "grade D and F" roaded and logged "wilderness" the "Wild Olympics" campaign seeks?  Or shall we stay the course set by the Northwest Forest Plan, and raise these to "grade C" before designating them wilderness?

Permanence?

The "Wild Olympics Campaign" advocates Wilderness designation as a more permanent protection for these areas than their current Late Successional Reserve status.

However, last month, Congress removed Wilderness protection from 222 acres of Olympic Wilderness for purposes of housing development [7].  The coalition backing the "Wild Olympics Campaign" voiced no opposition to this (although only one member of the coalition, Olympic Park Associates, requested it be first be reviewed under a NEPA process, it was not).

No such transfer of Late Successional Reserves protected under the Northwest Forest Plan has ever been proposed, let alone passed, by Congress.  NWFP has so far proven to provide more permanent protection than Wilderness designation. 

Public Process?

"Public process" is touted as a goal of the "Wild Olympics" campaign.  However, this political lobbying campaign is a faint replacement for the well-established USFS Forest Plan, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Eligibility and Suitability Study process conducted under NEPA.  These processes require much more extensive study, complete written disclosure of all factors, and public involvement from scoping through written comments, before a decision is reached.  See ref. 4 for a summary of the USFS wilderness recommendation process.  NEPA is a far better way to learn all the facts and reach quality decisions. 

"Wild Olympics" proposed "instant designation" by Congress eliminates these careful studies and public process, and forecloses responsible stewardship of the land under the Northwest Forest Plan.

Prospects?

In early December, Rep. Norm Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray's staff held a series of "community workshops" [8] on the Wild Olympics proposal in which they admitted the USFS had not yet even been consulted.

Olympic NF has since received a formal inquiry from their offices on the impacts of this proposal, and has begun to study it. 

On March 2, 2012 Rep. Dicks announced he will not seek re-election [9], leaving the "Wild Olympics" proposal without a sponsor in the House.  None of those likely to seek this seat in 2012 are likely to sponsor it.   Lacking a House sponsor, prospects for introduction, let alone passage, of a bill are now vanishing.

However, under current law with no Congressional action, the USFS shall consider the Wilderness eligibility of 85,807 acres of roadless areas in its next Forest Plan process, expected to begin in 2016.  So the areas that are actually worthy of wilderness will be protected through this planning process anyway, without any "Wild Olympics" campaign of "instant designation".


Appendix: Roads

Partial list of 65 miles of classified system roads within areas proposed by the "Wild Olympics" campaign as wilderness.  For maps and classifications, see ref. 3.  Some are bermed or gated closed; some are open.  Roads cannot be decommissioned until thinning of plantation areas they access is completed. 

The additional mileage of uninventoried roads is unknown.

Quilcene
FS2875-070 Canyon Cr.
FS2650-090 Tunnel Cr.
FS2630-020,-060, -069 Rocky Brook

Jupiter Ridge
FS2610-012 S Dose
FS2530, -020, -032m ,-033, -036 Murhut Cr.
FS2500-060, -065 Boulder Cr.

Jefferson Ridge
FS2401-033, -113, -114

Lightning Peak
FS2451-100 Four Stream
FS2355-400 Steel Creek
FS2353-230, -200 Le Bar

S Fk Skok/Capitol Peak
FS2270-210, -280, -290, -300, -330, -350, -370, -390, -391 Wynoochee
FS2364-220 Satsop
FS2361-500 Pine Cr.
FS2363, -170, -190 Church Cr.

Moonlight Dome
FS2204-190, -192 W. Fk Hump.
FS2208-100 E Fk Hump.

Quinault Ridge
FS2258-042, -100, -120
FS2272-160

Sams River
FS2180
FS2170-130, -131, -170, -180, -190, -192, -310, -340

Elk-Reade
FS2932, -200, -220, -225, -100, -095

Rugged Ridge
FS2900-400
FS2952

Baldy
FS3050, -300, -270


References.

[1] Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984 (PL 98-339) Section 5 is often referred to as the "hard release" provision, as it states that "areas not designated Wilderness... shall be managed for multiple use... [and] need not be managed for the purpose of protecting their suitability for Wilderness designation".

However, it was only a temporary release.  In Section 5(b)(2), with respect to roadless areas, "the Department of Agriculture shall not be required to review the Wilderness option prior to the revisions of the plans, but shall review the Wilderness option when the plans are revised".
http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/documents/publiclaws/PDF/98-339.pdf

These "revisions" occurred in 1990, and the next Forest Plan revision process "when these plans are revised" is expected to begin in 2016. 

Meanwhile, passage of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan protected these areas as Late Successional Reserves and prevented roading or logging of these areas.  So all these areas remain roadless, and the 1984 law mandates they be reviewed for Wilderness.

"Future consideration for addition to the Wilderness system on the Olympic National Forest will be limited to unroaded area remaining within these 13 areas when the Forest Plan is revised. Refer to Table 111-39 for further detail regarding presently remaining unroaded areas."
- Olympic National Forest, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Land and Resource Management Plan (1990), page III-153.  http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/olympic/landmanagement/planning

Detailed study of each of these 85,800 acres of unroaded areas are in 165-page Appendix C. 

[2] An initial estimate of 14,800 acres was quoted in a Dec. 3, 2011 Aberdeen "Daily World" newspaper article. http://tdw.thedailyworld.com/local_news/wild_olympics_forum_set_sunday
The updated figure of 12,400 acres is provided by Tim Davis, Olympic National Forest planner, on March 2, 2012.

[3] Olympic National Forest Access and Travel Management Plan and maps
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/olympic/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fsbdev3_049533

[4] Forest Service Wilderness Recommendation Process
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=designateFS

[5] The Wilderness Act of 1964
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=legisAct#1

[6] Olympic National Forest: Final Environmental Impact Statement, Land Use Plan, Sol Duc Planning Unit, 1974, pages 36, 46.
http://books.google.com/books?id=f7N0tW1_CgkC

[7] Public Law 112-97 enacted February 27, 2012 (Quileute lands)
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.01162:

[8] Rep. Norm Dicks press release, November 15, 2011
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/wa06_dicks/morenews1/olywilderness.shtml

[9] Rep. Norm Dicks press release, March 2, 2012
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/wa06_dicks/morenews1/march2.shtml

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"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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RodF
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PostTue Mar 20, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Differing pictures of Wild Olympics impacts
By Steven Friederich
The Daily World, March 7, 2012 - Link

"An analysis by a U.S. Forest Service staffer shows that only about two-thirds of the Wild Olympics proposal to include more land in “wilderness” designation would involve timber that could be considered “old growth.”

"Out of the 132,817 acres of forest land being considered in the Wild Olympics proposal, which has been endorsed by Congressman Norm Dicks and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, around 88,900 acres are older than 160 years of age. That leaves the balance as land that has been logged before or re-planted following a fire or wind storm.

"Davis says there’s 12,400 acres of potential commercial thinning that would be “foregone” under the Wild Olympics proposal. Variable density thinning, which has been done on forest land around the Humptulips River recently, is done to remove enough timber so that the remaining trees can develop old-growth characteristics. Davis says that another 13,850 acres of harvests done to the overstory would also be removed."


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"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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contour5
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PostWed May 02, 2012 9:27 pm 
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I'm certain the overall complexity of this issue is beyond the scope of my meager mental capacity-  I'm sort of a knee-jerk reactionary environmental extremist with a weird, idiosyncratic craving for access.

I just spent a few days free camping the forest roads between Kalaloch and Clearwater. It's stunningly beautiful rainforest back there- even the twisty paved roads have a strip of moss running down the center.

The destruction from logging on the three branches of Kalaloch Creek was utterly astonishing. The gravel and dirt roads are pouring sediment into the creeks as they slowly dematerialize. Huge slash piles every quarter mile.

Perhaps most shocking was the amount of trash left behind. THOUSANDS of empty gallon containers of hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, fuel additives and various kinds of toxic effluvia left to contaminate the environment. Broken hydraulic hoses hurled into the bushes in several locations. Also, the refuse of countless lunchbreaks- Rockstar, RedBull and other macho, "power" beverage containers along with "pink slime and crackers" type snack containers.

What kind of pigface morons are contracted to do the logging work out there?  I realize hikers could have snuck in there and dumped heaps of trash around the slash piles, but I doubt it. Park enforcers seem to spend all their time out on 101 shaking down vacationers over minor paperwork violations while the forest is being trashed.

Hell yeah, make it wilderness, and don't ever cut it again. I'd like to see the spaces filled in between the 2 sections of the park, slowly, over time. And yes, it would be nice if a few of the roads could be maintained (properly) to allow continued access to this part of our unique rainforest environment.

I make my living from forest products, but I believe strongly in preserving large chunks of our ecosystem as wilderness. Thanks for reading my little rant.
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Jeff Chapman
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PostWed May 02, 2012 9:48 pm 
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contour5 wrote:
Perhaps most shocking was the amount of trash left behind. THOUSANDS of empty gallon containers of hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, fuel additives and various kinds of toxic effluvia left to contaminate the environment. Broken hydraulic hoses hurled into the bushes in several locations. Also, the refuse of countless lunchbreaks- Rockstar, RedBull and other macho, "power" beverage containers along with "pink slime and crackers" type snack containers.

Having lived in Clearwater (working in the woods cutting cedar shake bolts), I assume you are referring to the DNR lands near the Honor Camp?   I don't think that the amount of trash and dumping you are describing would be acceptable by any of the land agencies so it needs to be reported.   Whether this is a testiment against logging I would think not.   Trash dumping is found all over the place........and is always wrong.

There will be a meeting in Grays Harbor County on May 10th where the pro-WO and anti-WO folks are facing off.   I just wonder if WO hasn't sputtered due to incredibly poor (and somewhat offensive) public relations, particularly in a county with over 20% unemployment and in a nation that can't even pass a Republican non-contentious wilderness bill like Dave Reichert's Pratt Addition to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.    With Norm retiring this year, it would take a small miracle for a bill to get any traction in the House even if you didn't have so much community pushback.   Not just in Grays Harbor County, but there are now anti-WO signs all over Quilcene and other communities.

It will be interesting to see if it becomes a 6th District campaign issue.
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treeswarper
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PostThu May 03, 2012 6:15 am 
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Contour5, I will copy your rant and post it in a logging forum I take part in.

That kind of garbage is not acceptable and the forester in charge needs a good chewing out.

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PostThu May 03, 2012 6:27 am 
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contour5 wrote:
a knee-jerk reactionary environmental extremist with a weird, idiosyncratic craving for access

Those two traits don't usually go together but  up.gif  for the hope. Seemingly, most land or agency managers view controlling or minimizing access as the correct environmental reaction. Some posters here have a passion for it. The Wild Olympics campaign is an overreach but can be modified to be a great plan as long as the NW Forest Plan is allowed to run its course.

Excellent post and research Rod, thanks as always.

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RodF
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PostSun Aug 19, 2012 8:28 pm 
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Dicks, Murray tout their Wild Olympics plan
The Daily World, August 17, 2012

"Looking at the rest of the year, Murray said it appeared unlikely that the bill would make it through either the House or Senate this year.

"Murray pledged to Dicks that she would continue pushing forward with the legislation, long after he retires."

Full article

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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PostMon Aug 20, 2012 6:55 am 
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I can't see this bill ever getting past Doc Hastings and the Committee on Natural Resources. Has it been written or presented in a way to bypass them?

Interesting race in the 6th this year.

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PostMon Aug 20, 2012 4:03 pm 
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“One way to do it would be to put the legislation on an appropriations bill,” Murray said in an interview. “But we just got an agreement to do a continuing resolution so it’s going to be pretty hard to do.”

No action has been taken on this bill since it was introduced.  It has not been heard in either the Senate or House committees on Natural Resources.

A means of bypassing the normal committee process is to attach it as an unrelated amendment ("rider") onto some piece of major "must pass" legislation, such as an omnibus budget, defense or farm bill.  House rules restrict non-germane amendments, but Senate rules do not.  The rider would then go direct to the Conference Committee, then back to the full House and Senate for an "up/down" vote on the entire bill.

As a senior member of majority leadership in the Senate, Murray has been on a previous Conference Committee, or if not, is able to exercise sufficient influence on it to pass a rider affecting only her state.  So, yes, she can, in effect, bypass the House.

However, this Congress is so deadlocked that it is unable to act on what is ordinarily considered to be "must pass" legislation.

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PostMon Sep 15, 2014 4:17 pm 
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up.gif

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PostMon Sep 15, 2014 4:53 pm 
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contour5 wrote:
Hell yeah, make it wilderness, and don't ever cut it again. I'd like to see the spaces filled in between the 2 sections of the park, slowly, over time. And yes, it would be nice if a few of the roads could be maintained (properly) to allow continued access to this part of our unique rainforest environment.

I make my living from forest products, but I believe strongly in preserving large chunks of our ecosystem as wilderness. Thanks for reading my little rant.

up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

EDIT: Just realized how old this thread is lol

I don't like that they watered the proposal down so much. The park really needs the extra buffer zone along the Queets River and Lake Ozette.

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PostMon Sep 15, 2014 7:34 pm 
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can't speak to Ozette, but:
north of the Queets Corridor is all DNR lands- timber for school money.
south is DNR/NFS/QTN checkerboard ownership all up and down Sams Ridge and Matheny Ridge.
don't put your money on any of that real estate becoming part of ONP.

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PostMon Sep 15, 2014 8:17 pm 
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Ski wrote:
north of the Queets Corridor is all DNR lands- timber for school money.
south is DNR/NFS/QTN checkerboard ownership all up and down Sams Ridge and Matheny Ridge.

The proposal was only for land North of the Queets; from the river to the top of the ridge so as to encompass much of the Queets watershed. It was a small area, but one that holds ecological significance.

The area near Queets is managed partly by the DNR, but is mostly private.

Ski wrote:
don't put your money on any of that real estate becoming part of ONP.

Considering that those lands were dropped from the Wild Olympics campaign there is probably no chance at all in the near future.

However, the Natura Conservancy is working on protecting land in that area, so perhaps there is some hope.

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CHECKTHISOUT
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PostMon Sep 15, 2014 9:03 pm 
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Ski wrote:
can't speak to Ozette, but:
north of the Queets Corridor is all DNR lands- timber for school money.
south is DNR/NFS/QTN checkerboard ownership all up and down Sams Ridge and Matheny Ridge.
don't put your money on any of that real estate becoming part of ONP.

up.gif

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PostThu Jun 04, 2015 6:14 pm 
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Bill introduced today by Sen's Cantwell & Murray and Rep. Kilmer.

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