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Protecting the environment by providing legal services for forest cases of statewide significance

Protecting the environment by providing legal services for forest cases of statewide significance.

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Seattle Times Editorial: "Go for a "green" forest"

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September 29, 2005 -- A King County Superior Court ruling gives State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland a chance to reconsider pursuit of a more-rigorous forest certification on state lands.

A King County Superior Court ruling gives State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland a chance to reconsider pursuit of a more-rigorous forest certification on state lands.

Judge Sharon Armstrong blocked implementation of the state's 10-year harvest plan because it fails to adequately evaluate the impact on spotted owls and salmon and fully consider less-intrusive logging practices. The judge's specific concerns about the plan, which had been challenged by environmental groups, were not set out in her initial announcement. Sutherland, who chairs the state Board of Natural Resources and heads the state Department of Natural Resources, put a laudable effort into a plan that increases harvest by 30 percent. He has a dual obligation to be a good steward of state lands and to raise money through timber sales for the state's school-construction fund and a variety of local uses.

We think Republican Sutherland has worked hard to do both, and said so when we endorsed him for re-election last November. But we also noted we thought the plan could benefit from a demanding review, such as offered by Forest Stewardship Council certification. Such ratings have value in the marketplace and can save money by precluding lawsuits and time-consuming challenges of sales and forest practices.

Last May, the 1.4 million acres of forest trust land in Western Washington received a certification through the Sustainable Forest Initiative, considered by many to be a lesser standard.

We are confident Sutherland wants to strike a balance between careful management and long-term revenue generation. But we also see a real value in a truly green forest certification. The judge's ruling can revive such an effort.