Follow the bouncing ball: This next one is a bit complex, so I can't go into much detail here. It Involves the Forests and Fish Report (FFR) and the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which regulates and covers forest practices on Non-Federal lands in Washington, and affects 9 million acres and 60-100,00 miles of streams in the state. The issue at hand here regards stream buffers, which had been festering for 5 years.
In a meeting of the Forest Practices Board (FPB) on March 30th, State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark surprised many when he sided with the timber industry in a 7-5 vote - AGAINST the enviros -- to have taxpayers pay the industry for the cost of additional compliance. This was much to the chagrin of other state departments, and the Attorney General, and the Conservation Caucus and Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC).
This move was partially resolved through legislative action, thanks to a "full court press" by the enviros, led by the WFLC. In the meantime, in early to mid April, two emergency FPB sessions were convened to deal with the fallout from the bomb that Goldmark dropped.
Another FPB meeting has been set for later this month to decide the buffer issue that was originally to take place March 30th. Three options have been proposed, one of which is bad (option #3), another is worse (#2), and the third (option #1) is acceptable to the Caucus. Now its a matter of getting the votes, which won't be easy, seeing as how 5 almost always got with industry. At this point, it appears that Option #3 appears to be most likely to win. As usual, these options involve all manner of specious to credible interpretations of economic impact and "good science."
This is all incredibly disappointing to enviros, who are sensibly feeling betrayed by the "Trojan Horse" actions of Goldmark, who was narrowly elected last November thanks to the very people he seems to be turning his back on now.
Dyche Kinder, CEC member and a member of the WFLC (link to WA Forest law Center website explaining the Caucus) is heavily involved in this ongoing issue and is reporting regularly on developments to the CEC. Stay Tuned!