Timber near Nile, WA. Photo: Jake Parrish, Yakima Herald-Republic
A new collaborative approach hopes to show responsible environmental stewardship can boost the health of Washington’s forests and the state’s regional economies.
The Little Naches Working Group, with 40 regular members representing a wide variety of interests and expertise, helped the US Forest Service develop plans for the nearly 57,000-acre Little Crow Area on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
"Work previously done on a 711-acre parcel of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in southern Kittitas County and a small part of Yakima County makes it the ideal starting point for Little Crow restoration," says U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Holly Krake. And, significant commercial logging efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire should provide jobs and add revenue to help pay for future treatments to restore a more natural state.
“You’re looking at a suite of different benefits, including recreation improvements, road improvements and native fish habitats,” Krake said. “All of that brings tourism.”
Little Naches Working Group chair Lloyd McGee of The Nature Conservancy credited the Forest Service for its transparency and responsiveness that led to “strong agreement” with the prescriptions for restoration, especially when it comes to logging. After 25 years of protecting all trees on federal land decimated the logging industry’s workforce, some of those remaining still question the Forest Service’s approach.
But Yakama Forest Products resource allocation manager Kelly Olney sees massive potential in an environmentally friendly solution to return the forest to its former glory.
“The beauty of this stuff is that we have a possibility by practicing limited logging that these forest districts can actually become self-sustaining on an economic basis again,” Olney said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”