Patti Case, Green Diamond Resource Company; and Cindy Mitchell, Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA), appeared this morning on 1030 KMAS News Radios’ “Environmentally Sound.” WFPA is a group of forest landowners, whose members include Green Diamond Resource Company. About 100 years ago, private timberland owners formed the association to fight forest fire on private land, as there was no organized forest fire fighting effort back then.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources has since taken over wild land fire fighting duties. WFPA today focuses on forestry regulations, research, taxation and forest education and promoting the benefits of sustainable forestry.
WFPA recently compiled a great deal of data on the economic impact of working forests in Washington State. This information is available on www.wfpa.org, WFPA’s website. Visitors will see a map of Washington State, with statewide statistics on the economic impact of the forest industry. By clicking on a county within the state, one can discover all sorts of facts about the number of jobs, how many acres of forestland and so on – by the county.
Here in Mason County residents are fairly well aware of that economic impact, but even in King County, 8,619 jobs are directly connected with the forest products industry!
Mitchell explained: “I don’t think people realize how many forestry jobs are in the state - there were about 50,000 jobs when we last counted in 2008. When you add up the indirect impact of those jobs, the timber industry supports nearly 120,000 jobs statewide.” Mitchell pointed out that the forest industry is the 2nd largest manufacturing employer behind transportation, primarily Boeing.
“What’s more,” Mitchell continued, “the timber industry produces products for the nation and world. We truly are the wood basket for the nation – for example, in Mason County enough timber was harvested in 2011 to produce 15,000 homes.” In addition to jobs, working forests support the public values for open green space, clean water, healthy fish and wildlife habitat.
Case explained that Washington State has some of the toughest forest practices regulations in the world. “At Green Diamond,” she explained, ‘we have a Habitat Conservation Plan which includes prescriptions to protect 51 aquatic and terrestrial species as well as clean water. Other forest landowners in Washington must comply with the Forests and Fish Law, which provides similar protections.
According to Mitchell, the Forests & Fish Law covers all state and private forestland in Washington State, some 9.3 million acres of forest land and 60,000 miles of streams. “In addition to providing good jobs and renewable wood products, the timber industry also protects public resources, such as fish and wildlife habitat, clean air & water, and green open space, something we don’t have much of in the big city,” said Mitchell. Private forest land owners are improving their road networks to ensure that silt or washouts from roads won’t impact streams, which protects water quality and habitat for fish. The industry has invested $167 million to date improving their road systems.
Cindy Mitchell provided a number of additional facts about the forest industry in Mason County:
- 90% of the county is forestland
- 61% is working forest, meaning it produces timber for wood products
- 12.5% of Mason County wages are paid by the forest industry
- 1,473 direct jobs and 3,897 indirect and induced jobs
- Forest industry pays $155 million in wages each year in Mason County
- Forest industry pays $5.7 million in taxes each year in Mason County
Mitchell and Case, along with representatives from Simpson Lumber Company, will be at the County Commission meeting Tuesday at 6:30 pm to provide more information about the forest economy here in Mason County. The two encouraged listeners to log on to www.wfpa.org for more great forestry facts.
July 23, 2013/Press Release Submitted by Patti Case, Green Diamond