McLaughlin says Collaboration vs. Litigation is Best Path Forward for Public Lands

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Litigation Against DNR has Stymied Their Ability to Meet their Legal Obligation to Earn Income for Public School and County Trusts

Steve McLaughlin, avid outdoorsman, conservationist, and mountaineer.

It is time put a stop to unnecessary litigation, and delays and allow the scientists, professionals and experts to do their jobs. Collaboration vs. litigation is the best path forward for managing our state trust lands.

The Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) released their conservation plan this week to protect the elusive seabird – the Marbled Murrelet -- and Environmental Litigator Peter Goldman says we should “delay the release till the next lands commissioner takes up office.” (KNKX.org)

The McLaughlin campaign is calling foul on this, as Peter Goldman brought a lawsuit against the DNR in 2012 (No. 12-2-19053-4 SEA) to stop DNR from carrying out timber harvesting activity in forested areas that are unoccupied by the Marbled Murrelet to help produce income for Wahkiakum County. More than half of the state forestland is already off-limits to timber harvesting in that county due to environmental restrictions. The DNR’s goal was to walk the fine line of balancing environmental protections and earning income by shifting the timber harvest of state managed land from one area to another so DNR could meet its fiduciary obligations to the Wahkiakum county trust beneficiaries.

Goldman’s comments to “delay till the next lands commissioner take up office” is just another confirmation that he is trying to control the office and management of our state trust lands through inherited money and lawsuits to fulfill his own vision for the state’s forestlands, according to the KNKX article. In the meantime, stakeholders have been productively participating over the past eight years in using science, collaboration and planning measures to develop the six proposals before the Board of Natural Resources.

“Nearly 50% of DNR’s forestlands are setaside through their 1997 Habitat Conservation Plan to protect and enhance the habitat of threatened and endangered species, such as the Northern Spotted Owl, Pacific Fisher and native salmon habitat. That’s about 593,000 acres of forests, out of 1.4 million acres. The DNR has been wrestling with incorporating the Marbled Murrelet into the Habitat Conservation Plan for years, yet DNR only has a total of 60,000 acres of Marbled Murrelet habitat, of which 50,000 acres are already included in the set aside land,” said Steve McLaughlin.

Other elected officials have taken note of this pattern over the years. “Here’s the key difference in this race,” said House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee member Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, “Steve will be an independent leader; his opponent is a follower who will take orders from a Seattle millionaire.”

It is time put a stop to unnecessary litigation, and delays and allow the scientists, professionals and experts to do their jobs. Collaboration vs. litigation is the best path forward for managing our state trust lands.

About Steve McLaughlin
Steve McLaughlin is a lifelong conservationist and avid climber, hiker, hunter, and fisher. As a career, naval officer, McLaughlin led complex organizations with thousands of employees. He oversaw both forestlands and aquatic lands for the U.S. Navy (Everett Homeport has 5,000 acres of timber and extensive tidelands) and helped conserve one of the last stands of old growth in lowland Western Washington. McLaughlin is supported by labor unions, Native Americans, farm and business groups, and veterans, among others. For more information, visit http://www.mac4lands.org.

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