KRCG v. DNR and Stimson Lumber Co.
COURT INFORMATION: Washington State Supreme Court No. 75358-0; Washington State Court of Appeals No. 29077-4-II; Thurston County Superior Court No. 00-2-02277-5; Washington Forest Practices Appeals Board Nos. 98-33, 99-18 & 00-06
CLIENTS: Kettle Range Conservation Group and The Lands Council
STATUS: The Court of Appeals issued a decision reported at Kettle Range Conservation Group v. Department of Natural Resources, 120 Wn. App. 434, 85 P.3d 894 (2003). The Supreme Court denied Stimson’s Petition for Review in November 2004, terminating this case.
This case was a challenge to the Department of Natural Resources’ approval of a “watershed analysis” for the 66,000 acre LeClerc Creek Watershed located in Northeast Washington. The major private landowner in the watershed is Stimson Lumber Company; the U.S. Forest Service and DNR are the other major landowners.
Watershed analysis is a process by which a timber company studies a watershed and develops “prescriptions” for future logging activities that are supposed to prevent damage to water resources. A completed and approved watershed analysis substitutes for future case-by-case environmental review as to those resources.
We contended in this case that DNR erred in approving the LeClerc Creek watershed analysis because forest practices occurring under its prescriptions will fail to comply with federally approved state water quality standards, and the prescriptions will not prevent cumulative impacts on wildlife. Further, we argued that DNR used incorrect methodology for conducting and approving the analysis, especially by failing to consider Stimson Lumber Company’s specific plans to road and log thousands of acres.
The Forest Practices Appeals Board heard evidence and rejected all of our claims. Read the decision here. The Court of Appeals reversed on one significant ground: the calculation of impacts to water quality from road run off, together with the accompanying “declaration of no significant impacts” under the State Environmental Policy Act. Kettle Range Conservation Group v. Department of Natural Resources, 120 Wn. App. 434, 85 P.3d 894 (2003), Rev. Denied, 152 Wn.2d 1026, 101 P.3d 421 (2004). The Court remanded to DNR to redo the analysis. However, due to changes in the law removing landowner incentive to conduct watershed analysis since the adoption of the 2001 Forests and Fish Rules, no further action was taken. In fact, no watershed analyses have been completed for a number of years.
Learn more about DNR’s watershed analysis process.