Olympic Peninsula brimming with timber issues

2012-10-26 Ashley Bach

The Olympic Peninsula in Washington is busy right now with timber issues, including a key congressional race and the ongoing Wild Olympics proposal.

In the political race, the great-grandson of the founder of Weyerhaeuser is running for Congress in the 6th District, which covers the Olympic Peninsula, most of the Kitsap Peninsula and most of Tacoma. Bill Driscoll, whose great-grandfather Frederick Weyerhaeuser started the timber giant in 1901, is running as a Republican against Democrat Derek Kilmer. 

Driscoll, 50, told the Peninsula Daily News that he was forced to fund his race in part with his own money to match the financial advantages of Kilmer, who serves in the State Senate. Driscoll does not currently hold office.

“I made a commitment that when I got into this, I was going to run a competitive race, and as the newcomer, I’ve been surprised at the degree to which the system supports incumbents in terms of the ability of incumbents to raise money from [political action committees] based on historical relationships," (Driscoll said).

“My experience is it’s just about impossible for a newcomer to come in and raise money to run a race.”

This week, Driscoll said he had concerns about a landfill permit being denied for the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill.

“I want to make sure that Jefferson County is a place where there is continued investment by the forest-products industry,” he said.

“It's important that we have a certain degree of certainty and clarity in these regulations because having a thriving forest-products industry is critical to our district.”

Meanwhile, the Wild Olympics proposal (which we last wrote about here) is now in Congress. But the plan to protect 130,000 acres of park wilderness and 19 rivers in Olympic National Park is in trouble, according to the Peninsula Daily News. The bill has not even received a hearing and may have to wait to be considered until next year.

Sequim Mayor Ken Hays and Sequim City councilors Laura Dubois and Candace Pratt recently endorsed the bill but Pratt didn't seem too optimistic about its chances in an interview with the Sequim Gazette.

“It’s still in committee and Congress isn’t doing anything right now. I think it’s probably dead.”