Kilmer and forest group meet with public in Quilcene

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U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, 6th District, D, visits Quilcene on Thursday, July 21 to attend the latest of a series of public meetings together with timber, conservation and government representatives of the Olympic Peninsula Forest Collaborative. The meeting provides an opportunity for the collaborative to engage the public in its efforts.

The event is set for 1 p.m. at the Quilcene Masonic Lodge, 170 Herbert St.

Members of the collaborative are set to give presentations on the group’s governance structure, stated goals and progress to date. Members of the public can ask questions and give feedback to the collaborative, and sign up to receive regular updates on its work.

In May 2015, Kilmer joined regional leaders from the U.S. Forest Service, local governments, the timber industry and environmental advocacy groups in Port Angeles to launch the Olympic Peninsula Forest Collaborative.

The collaborative is focused on increasing habitat restoration thinning and aquatic restoration projects under the Northwest Forest Plan for the Olympic National Forest, which would create economic opportunities on the Olympic Peninsula, according to a press release. Among the items discussed at the official launch were the group’s goals and governance structure, along with the best ways to incorporate feedback from the public.

Last year in Aberdeen, together with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the collaborative announced a proposed pilot project for the Olympic National Forest that would feature forest restoration silvicultural treatments to benefit the ecosystem and provide additional harvest in the region.

As in all future collaborative-sponsored projects, this would require approval by the Forest Service and other federal agencies, according to a press release from Kilmer's office. The project would be in compliance with both the Olympic National Forest Plan and the Northwest Forest Plan, and the volume produced from this proposed project would be in addition to the Forest Service’s budgeted timber sale outputs for the year.

This agreement builds on the partnership between the collaborative and the Olympic National Forest, which so far has accelerated a timber sale begun last year in Grays Harbor County and is adding capacity to the agency’s annual work plan, Kilmer's release stated.

The collaborative is modeled on similar partnerships in Washington state, such as the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. It is the first of its kind on the Olympic Peninsula, dedicated solely to creating environmentally sound forests while increasing sustainable timber harvests within the bounds of the Northwest Forest Plan.

Participants in the collaborative include: American Forest Resource Council, American Whitewater, Interfor, Merrill & Ring, the Mountaineers, Murphy Company, Olympic Park Associates, Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Pacific Industries, Washington Wild and the Wild Olympics Campaign.

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