Pope Resources will be harvesting a total of 467 acres of timberlands around Poulsbo, says a Washington State Department of Natural Resources forest practices application that was approved in August. Kitsap Environmental Coalition organizers say they intend to go head-to-head with Pope over the harvest.
The Opsada project, as it’s called on the application, will take place on Pope lands to the southeast of Minder Road in Poulsbo. Adrian Miller, director of administration and corporate affairs for Olympic Resource Management — Pope’s parent company — said the group has already begun cutting trees on the property. What happens to the property after that has yet to be determined.
“For some time we have been working with a number of different stakeholders to see if there was a conservation pathway for long-term preservation of this property,” Miller said. “We weren’t able to achieve that in the timeframe that we had.”
In addition to conservation, development of the lands, Miller said, was another possibility being examined by the group, although he noted that Pope would be replanting the harvested trees regardless of what is decided.
“In terms of future land use, we are looking at a possible development on that site, or portions of that site. That could not occur until six years from now because of the harvest that we did, but that is certainly an option that we will be exploring.”
Pope’s plans for the area have drawn the attention of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition as well. KEC was formed back in August after Pope Resources confirmed that it intended use a helicopter to spray more than 330 acres of recently-harvested timberlands in Hansville with the herbicide glyphosate. KEC cited an August court decision against the manufacturers of glyphosate (then Monsanto, now Bayer) that awarded a California groundskeeper $289 million after a jury found that regular application of the weed killer Roundup by the plaintiff contributed to him developing cancer.
KEC filed an appeal with the state to block the application of the herbicide but has since withdrawn legal action after stating that $70,000 in legal costs were too much for the group to bear.
KEC President Randi Strong-Petersen said that a fundraising gala recently held by the coalition — which gathered more than $16,000 — would help pay for their previous legal costs, future educational materials, outreach and the retainer for KEC’s new lawyer, Wyatt Golding.
Strong-Petersen said that if Pope applies for a permit to apply herbicide following the harvest, the coalition intends to fight against it.
“We are continuing to meet with local officials and anyone that we can who has the ability to influence Pope Resources with regard to stopping the aerial spraying,” Strong-Petersen said.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.