Western WA stewardship foresters are due to lose their positions as of June 30, 2009. Not affecting us in central WA yet, but it certainly could... if forest owners don't speak up soon.
Washington Department of Natural Resources has decided to eliminate stewardship foresters west of the Cascades. They're being quiet about it, and many small forest owners are unaware of the impending cuts. State employees are forbidden to discuss some aspects of the decision publicly.
Stewardship foresters are the people who work with small timber landowners to manage stands sustainably and advise us on reducing fire hazards. They make site visits and approve forest stewardship plans. They co-teach the coached planning class, and the advanced stewardship class I'm taking now, in partnership with Washington University Extension.
The elimination of these positions is purportedly due to state budget cuts. The westside foresters being cut are the least numerous and most burdened -- there are more family forests on the west side than on the east, and fewer foresters to cover more counties.
If stewardship foresters are cut on the east side as well, thousands of families here will lose a major source of help. We've benefited from those services in our effort to eliminate fuels, reduce forest fire hazard, fight bugs and disease, and fund necessary activities that are uneconomical on a small property.
WA DNR should restore those westside foresters' posts, rather than lose the many years of experience and territory familiarity they possess. I hope DNR doesn't cut eastside stewardship foresters next. So I'm e-mailing the WA Land Commissioner and my state legislators. You should, too.
Find your legislator's name and contact info using your address
Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands
1111 Washington St. SE
PO Box 47001
Olympia WA 98504-7001
The Washington Farm Forestry Association's lobbyists might also be able to help more if they hear from private forest owners. www.wafarmforestry.com