Clallam commissioners interested in section of forest for ODT

By Brian Gawley

Olympic Peninsula News Group

Clallam County commissioners plan to send a letter to Rayonier Inc. next week based on the county’s interest in negotiations to purchase a section to connect the Olympic Discovery Trail between Forks and La Push.

Commissioners plan to inform the new owner of Rayonier’s 36,985-acre Clallam-S Unit that they want to buy a 6.5-mile, 150-foot-wide section to connect the trail on the south side of State Highway 110, also known as La Push Road.

“The western terminus of the ODT to link the communities of Forks and La Push has been in the planning for years,” the draft letter states. “There is a high level of public interest to complete this important ODT connection on the county’s west end.”

The commissioners will review the draft at their Monday work session and then consider approval at their regular meeting, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

The Florida-based forest management company announced two weeks ago it plans to sell more than 115,000 acres of timberland on the West End as part of a move to restructure its assets. The Clallam-S package is one of four parts of that sale. Bids are due June 6.

The Forks-to-La Push segment will be the western terminus of the 135-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, a multi-use, paved trail that will go all the way to Port Townsend. It also is part of a larger vision for a nationwide coast-to-coast trail.

“The ODT is of nationwide interest in that it is the planned western terminus of the Great American Rail-Trail (GART) that will provide a multi-use trail that stretches more than 3,700 miles (more than 52 percent complete) between Washington, D.C. and the community of La Push in our county,” the commissioners’ letter states.

The letter also thanks Rayonier for working with the county on a previous purchase of a 150-foot-wide trail corridor segment in the city of Forks on the east side of U.S. Highway 101.