Skamania County, Washington is experiencing an economic transition that deeply impacts County government. Over 85% of the County’s total acreage is covered by public forest lands. The dwindling timber harvest and decline in federal timber payments have threatened Skamania County’s fiscal stability. Meanwhile, other units of government in the county – school districts, cities, etc. – are also facing tight financial constraints. Perhaps more than any other timber dependent county in the Pacific Northwest, Skamania County’s option for handling this transition are limited. With slightly more than 10,000 residents and about 5% of the county land in taxable private ownership, traditional tax sources can’t provide enough to fill the gap. (Skamania Forward Summary Report, July 2000)
Below is the correspondence and information that every citizen of Skamania County should know about.
Onward to Skamania Forward Written as a Special to the Skamania County Pioneer, February 17th edition. This article discusses the Skamania Forward study and the impacts of the economic climate and decisions made since 2000.
Here Are Some Solutions
1. Require the Forest Service to manage for Plantation Restoration and Sustained Yield. 30 years of thinning and harvest possible.
2. Authorize 25% of all receivable federal funds generated on federal forest lands to Skamania County, including all “stewardship” contracting, in lieu of yearly PILT and Secure Rural School payments.
3. Amend NEPA and ESA to streamline and expedite the environmental assessment and final decision making process, and minimize the current extremely lengthy unproductive litigation process.
4. Amend LWCF: Require in-kind transfer of current federal lands to Skamania County for public services or private property development, when private property is purchased for federal ownership.
5. Designate certain USFS lands as “Charter Forests” or “Community Forest Management” for a Skamania County Forest yearly timber revenue, in lieu of yearly PILT and Secure Rural School payments.