Logging on the Key Peninsula is the focus of an ongoing battle that inflames landowners, conservationists, developers, reputable logging stewardship enterprises, and land-grabbers who indiscriminately log and leave behind deplorable conditions defacing the area. Under the auspices of Class III permits through the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it’s all legal. A leisurely drive up or down the peninsula proves that little, if anything, has changed in the six years since the roughly 77-acre parcel at the corner of S. Vaughn Road and Crescent Beach Road was stripped under such a permit granted to Western Timber, Inc. in only 18 days, sparking public outrage. These permits need no county approval, require notice to affected neighbors.
Then, as now, residents originally concerned with wildlife and beauty of their neighborhood saw the whole tract become a denuded “mess” that remains today. At the time, state and county officials both said their hands were tied by various regulations; that conundrum remains.
“The peninsula is going to have this kind of thing happening over and over again,” warned former Vaughn resident Richard Brudvik-Lindner six years ago, according to a report published at the time by the Peninsula Gateway. “A lot of laws are there to protect timber industries and not residential communities like ours.”
Today, based on wreckage left behind after a recent DNR-permitted strip logging operation on the peninsula, some residents believe the state still does not consider the effects of clear-cut logging on adjacent property, adjacent property devaluations resulting from “tree-stump farm” neighbors, or increased runoff on hillsides resulting from stripping the land of erosion and water-controlling trees.
On March 23 at 7 p.m. at McColley Hall in the Key Peninsula Lutheran Church, a timber harvesting forum intending to provide information about current logging rules and regulations will be held. Moderated by Key Pen resident Frank Shirley, a retired consulting forester, the program includes panelists Tom Van Slyke, a third-generation logger; Ben Cleveland, a DNR forest practices forester; and Adonais Clark, a Pierce County planner with the resource management section. Shirley said this is not an opinion forum, although a question and answer session will be provided. The forum is sponsored by the Key Peninsula Community Council.
Six years ago, Brudvik-Lindner was quoted as saying, “People didn’t move here to live on a stump farm. The GMA is supposed to protect and preserve the rural area. But is it being used to protect the character, or as a license to ignore it?” It’s a question that still begs an answer that local community leaders are hoping to address.
Chris Fitzgerald is a KP Community Council director.