KING 5 News: "Officials debate logging's effect on Lewis Co. flooding"
By Gary Chittim / KING 5 News
LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. – The state Forest Practices Board cleared its entire agenda Wednesday to dig into logging's possible connection to the Lewis County floods.
In the days after the flooding, giant logs were found scattered over farmlands and blamed for destroying homes and businesses.
Farmer Dave Fenn's fields were covered with logs deposited by the raging south fork of the Chehalis River. He thinks logging in the hills above is to blame.
"I'm not an opponent of logging or clear cutting, but I just think it's irrational to log as fast as they logged it," he said.
Fenn's referring to the Stillman Creek drainage above his farm, where Little Mountain is bald and scarred by recent slides. Slide shutes ring the entire drainage. They're the trails left by tons of soil, rock and debris that raced down the canyons to the creek beds below.
Scientists say a mega storm event slammed Lewis County with an unprecedented amount of rain, which set the slides in motion. Climatologists say the event was so powerful, it may not have mattered whether it was logged or not.
But it's obvious by flying over that most of the slide activity took place in the clear cuts.
Industry officials said they too are farmers who were caught by surprise by the big storms.
"The woody debris that came down in these landslides, that wouldn't have made a difference," said Frank Mendizabal, a spokesperson for Weyerhaeuser. "There's 200-year-old trees and there's 15-year-old trees."
Dave Fenn says he doesn't oppose logging, he just has one request from farmer to farmer.
"I think their rotations should be longer," he said. "In my opinion it should be at least 70 years."