The Commissioner of Public Lands, which will be on the ballot in November, runs the Department of Natural Resources, which manages and regulates state and private timberland, wildfire, tidelands, some farmland, and has many employees.
My wife and I own several hundred acres of highly productive timberland in Southwest Washington, and are similar to other non-industrial private forest land owners who own about one half of the private timberland in Washington State. We make occasional timber harvests, but mainly protect the beauty, productivity and other important resource values of the land. Others agree, as we were named the Washington State Tree Farmer of the Year 2015, and we are certified by the American Tree Farm System.
The overall timber industry is much more regulated by State Forest Practice rules than most people realize, especially in the areas of stream protection by leaving timber buffers, steep slope rules, reforestation, etc. Excessive regulation always impacts the smaller forest land owners to a greater degree than the large industrial owners. The only alternative to forest management for smaller owners is not positive for the environment, as the land is broken into small building lots, and sold off, greatly reducing wildlife habitat and increasing polluted runoff from the home sites.
The upcoming election for the State Lands Commissioner greatly concerns me. The Democrat offering is Hillary Franz, who comes directly from the litigious environmental advocacy industry. She is a lawyer from the Futurewise group, who has spent her career suing the very agency she wants to run, and promises more regulation of landowners which will cause the unintended consequences I mentioned above.
The moderate choice is Steve McLaughlin, who is a retired U.S. Navy Commander, where he gained experience managing a large complex organization, including Naval timberlands, not unlike the DNR. Franz does not have this experience.
McLaughlin taught Incident Command with the Navy and knows how to coordinate and manage firefighting. Franz does not have this experience.
Please support a healthy, reasonably regulated forest industry by voting for Steve McLaughlin.