Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Chuckanuts - For Pulp?

As he branded the butt end of these logs with a log stamp hammer, this logger told me exactly what I needed to know: this 82-acre unit on South Chuckanut Peak is owned by Great Western Lands, and the logs will be sold for pulp. The pulp will add a soft finish to high quality copy paper. I decided immediately to never buy or use high quality copy paper again.

Our Chuckanuts for pulp? Yup – it’s true. Blanchard Mountain is next on the list. If you’re like me, you did not find out about this logging operation until it was too late. It’s not too late to watchdog South Chuckanut Peak, and it’s not too late to advocate for Blanchard Mountain.

This was not a typical day for me. My job involves investigating and documenting pollution, and stopping it. The trees had already been cut down. Was any silt or mud getting into the streams or wetlands? I looked, and didn’t see any discharges – but it hadn’t rained in a few days.

Sediment from logging roads is a well documented threat to water quality throughout the west. It is the fifth leading source of water quality impairment to rivers and streams nationwide. Interestingly, a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit is required for stormwater runoff from logging roads. Even better, it deemed logging roads to be an “industrial activity.” This is good. I like these permits, because they provide a legal framework, require the owner/operators to perform regular water quality sampling, and require best management practices to protect water quality. Although an appeal is likely, the owners and operators of logging roads are now faced with the threat of citizen law suits or enforcement actions for un-permitted discharges of silty water.

You can help us look for and document silty water discharges into streams, ditches, and wetlands associated with this clearcut. How? Go up there when it’s raining (it’s gated – so you will need to walk or ride your bike 4 miles). If you see any silty water, take photos, and send them to me (leef@re-sources.org). And f you need more information about how to get there or what to look for, contact me.

Here is what you can do for Blanchard Mountain:

  • Educate yourself by reading about it on the Chuckanut Conservancy web page: www.chuckanutconservancy.org/
  • Contact Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark at (360) 902-1004 or cpl@wadnr.gov. Tell him that now is the time to protect Blanchard Mountain.

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