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Seattle Times: "State will seek "green" OK for logging on some forests"

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March 7, 2007 -- In a partial win for environmentalists, Washington's state-owned forestlands could for the first time earn an environmental stamp of approval for logging practices.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003605000_forestry07m.html

By Warren Cornwall 

In a partial win for environmentalists, Washington's state-owned forestlands could for the first time earn an environmental stamp of approval for logging practices.

Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland said Tuesday that the state Department of Natural Resources will seek certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for logging on 141,000 acres of state forests on the Kitsap Peninsula and in the western Cascade Mountains.

For years the department has declined environmentalists' urgings to seek certification from the stewardship council, created by environmental, timber and community groups.

Instead, the department received an endorsement from a different program created by the timber industry: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Environmentalists say those standards are less rigorous.

"We've been working for over five years to encourage them [the DNR] to adopt this more sustainable forestry approach, and they were quite resistant," said Becky Kelley of the Washington Environmental Council.

"So it's great to see they're warming to the idea."

The department isn't reversing positions on stewardship council certification, said spokeswoman Patty Henson. When it earlier declined to seek FSC certification, it was because the department hadn't completed forest-management plans needed for the stewardship council's approval, she said.

That work is almost done for the sections of forest where certification will be sought.

The department wants the additional seal of approval because it "reassures the public that our management practices, and the timber supply that comes from that, are grounded in environmentally sound and responsible practices," Henson said.

Overall, the department controls 2.1 million acres of forestland. Most of it is managed to raise money for school construction, hospitals, libraries and other public needs.

Henson said the department would consider pursuing certification for other parts of the state on a case-by-case basis.

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Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company. Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or wcornwall@seattletimes.com