Washington's forests are in poor health, with trees diseased by pine beetles, spruce budworms and root rot. The situation got so bad that in 2012, State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark declared a forest health-hazard warning for parts of Eastern Washington, a warning that is still in effect two years later.
It's no coincidence then that Washington is enduring one of its worst wildfire seasons ever, including the Carlton Complex fire, the largest single wildfire in state history. Diseased trees are kindling for forest fires.
The rampant fires have led the Seattle Times, the Olympian and other community leaders to demand more funding for what's been the solution all along: active forest management.
The anger and frustration over the lack of federal forest management recently boiled over in Skamania County, Wash.
It's no wonder. As we noted in a post last year, 80 percent of Skamania County is taken up by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest; another 8 percent is owned by the state, and another 10 percent of the county is private timberland, which generates significant tax reveue only when it's harvested. That means only 2 percent of the county is private, regularly taxed property.
Skamania County is heavily dependent on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest being managed properly, and since the advent of the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994, the forest isn't even being harvested at the levels laid out in that plan, let alone levels that would allow the county's residents to be able to live and work in their communities.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, recently convened a roundtable of about 35 federal, state and local leaders, who met in Skamania County to discuss potential solutions and also tour the Silver Creek thinning project in the Gifford Pinchot forest.