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Port’s Wild Olympics report posted online

The Port of Port Angeles has placed its “Wild Olympics Campaign Economic Impact Study” online.

The Port’s report states it was “commissioned Dr. Dan Underwood of Olympus Consulting and Jason Cross of Malus Partners to conduct a study to evaluate the potential economic impacts of the proposed Wild Olympics Campaign for Clallam and Jefferson counties. This was a targeted study that did not include all counties on the Olympic Peninsula.

“Dr. Underwood and Mr. Cross presented their findings on Monday, September 26 to the Port Commissioners during the commission meeting.”

The study is now available for reading and download at the Port’s website, www.portofpa.com. Look for a link under the News and Press Releases heading.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28 the report was discussed at the weekly meeting of the West End Business & Professional Association (WEBPA), which meets on Wednesday mornings at the Department of Natural Resources’ meeting room on Tillicum Lane in Forks.

The business group invited speaker Carol Johnson from North American Timber Action Committee (NOTAC) to speak at the Sept. 28 meeting.

Johnson had spoke in Forks in early August at an ad hoc meeting aimed at addressing the impact of the Wild Olympics Campaign on the timber industry.

A report from the August meeting stated that ten environmental groups are actively trying to have 145,000 acres acquired by the federal government and added to the wilderness designation in the Olympic National Park, along with having 400 miles of rivers designated as “wild and scenic.”

Lands affected would range from the Lake Ozette area south to lands around Forks, to Queets and Quinault regions and further south to Grays Harbor County and other areas.

The weekly WEPBPA minutes report ed that NOTAC was formed in 1989 as a response to the “economic impact of the spotted owl issue.”  The organization is apparently the last remaining organization from that era when supporters of the timber industry on the West End and logging regions fought against federal environmental restrictions that closed federal timber lands to harvesting to protect the habitat of the Northern spotted owl.

During Johnson’s appearance discussion turned to the Wild Olympics Campaign, the movement that seeks to add thousands of acres of timber lands to the Olympic National Park and is the focus of the Port’s study.

It was reported that the change in land use would result in a loss of 72 timber jobs, which were described as “family wage jobs.” The report shows that most tourism industry jobs pay only about one-third of the wage paid by a timer job.

In addition, it was stated at the meeting that “the Olympic Peninsula can’t meet current demands for timber.”

Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger attended the meeting. The report said Tharinger “noted that the commissioners wrote a letter of support (for the Wild Olympics Campaign) ‘in principal’ and said that they agreed with the ‘willing buyer, willing seller,’ (concept) which will ‘swap out less commercially viable timber land for more, and most of it is not commercially viable.’”

It was pointed out that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Hoquiam) supports the Wild Olympics Campaign.

Mayor Bryon Monohon and City of Forks Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck, along with WEBPA members noted the downside of enacting the Wild Olympics Campaign, pointing out how the plan would boost the cost of building permits, how regulating the use of timber-producing lands would drop its value and make it viable for acquisition by the Olympic National Park and other related issues.

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