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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 PI Editorial: "Logging: Avoiding lawsuits"

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March 23, 2006 -- The missing sounds from Washington's state forestlands should be the war cries of environmentalists, timber companies and public officials.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/263919_forested.html

The missing sounds from Washington's state forestlands should be the war cries of environmentalists, timber companies and public officials.

It may have been an understatement when State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland called a new agreement "remarkable." The state Board of Natural Resources and environmental groups have decided to settle a lawsuit that had challenged -- successfully, so far -- plans for increased logging on 1.4 million acres of Washington land. More importantly, the state, environmentalists and the timber industry came to new understandings on how they will work together to settle future differences.

The Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Environmental Council, which led the legal challenge, readily acknowledge they have their work cut out to implement the agreement -- more studies of options, set up dispute resolution procedures and communicate better. But the extra efforts should have huge payoffs.

There will be more chance for the state to earn sustainable revenues for schools and other recipients of trust funds if environmental standards are high and lawsuits avoided. Innovative forest practices will be considered, and should be implemented to improve forest health and threatened species. Private landowners and U.S. Forest Service managers, who control much of the habitat for endangered spotted owls, can apply lessons.

If Sutherland and environmentalists can truly create constructive channels for resolving decades of fighting over scarce forest resources, the state will enter a healthier era.