Washington state officials recently confirmed what many people suspected: this is the worst drought in the state's modern history.
“We have never experienced a drought like this,” said Maia Bellon, director of the state Department of Ecology. “It is remarkably worse than the drought of 2005 or 2001... and there is no end in sight.”
The Methow Valley News put the misery in bullet points:
-Almost 99 percent of the state is classified as being in a “severe drought.”
-Eighty sturgeon, from 5 to 7 feet long — including breeding females — have been found dead along the Columbia River.
-Typically wet forests on the Olympic Peninsula are burning, with the largest fire on record in Olympic National Park this summer.
-Every county in the state is predicted to qualify for federal disaster relief.
-At least 30 irrigators have been ordered to shut their diversions.
And the wildfires, as we noted earlier this month, are already off to the races.
“Wildfire season started early and energetically,” said Mary Verner, deputy supervisor of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). As of July 17, there had been 747 fires that burned almost 74,000 acres. This week brush fires near Quincy and Monroe have increased the total.
The 74,000 acres is more than twice the area burned by mid-July last year (not counting the Carlton Complex Fire, which had just started), said Verner.
The cross-laminated timber (CLT) industry in the Pacific Northwest received a couple huge boosts this month. First the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it will help Washington and Oregon become a center for the manufacturing of CLT and its use in the construction of tall wood buildings.
While there isn't any money yet attached to the federal government's announcement, the new designation of a manufacturing zone for CLT and other cutting-edge wood products is still a breakthrough development.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, applauded the designation.
"This announcement is great news for Southwest Washington families and businesses as we all work to develop and grow our economy, and create jobs for local workers," Murray said in a statement."
...The Commerce Department is considering a 16-county swath from southern Oregon to Vancouver, Washington, a manufacturing zone (and) will dedicate federal resources -- including a liaison and promotion to domestic and foreign investors -- to help grow the fledgling industry.
"Never before have we had the opportunity to collaborate as closely with such a broad range of partners to strengthen opportunities for manufacturing job creation. We are thrilled to receive this designation," said Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council (in Vancouver).
Here's what else is planned:
-Special certification program for wood product manufacturing
-Training for young people who want a path other than traditional education systems
-Repurposing old lumber mills in rural areas to adapt to new technology, rather than building new mills
-Washington officials plan to update land designations to align with Oregon's study of industrial land that can accommodate manufacturing industries.
The federal designation will cover three Washington counties: Clark, Klickitat and Skamania.
Forests and Fish collaborators support DNR and the Governor's funding request for Adaptive Management
The Adaptive Management Program supports the science and accountability foundation of the Forests & Fish Law.
WFPA supports extension of tax credit for biomass to produce renewable energy
Use of forest-derived biomass produces energy, and can help reduce the threat of wildfires by paying for the cost of thinning to improve forest health.
Counties and schools receive the Forest Harvest Excise Tax (FET) and property tax
Public and private timber harvesters pay the FET in addition to the property tax on timberland.
Private landowners help fund wildfire costs
Private landowners share the burden of preparing for and fighting wildfire.
Wood is our Most Natural Resource
Wood from sustainably managed forests provides the best low-energy building material.
Forest Products Industry Jobs Impact
Nearly 40,000 direct jobs are provided by the forest products industry.
Forest Products Industry Economic Impact
Washington is the 2nd largest lumber producer in the nation, paying wages, taxes and providing environmental benefits for Washington State.
Forest Landowner RMAP Accomplishments
From 2001 through June 2013, landowners have removed an impressive 5,641 barriers to fish passage, restoring 3,893 miles of historic fish habitat.