Fighting Climate Change & Its Effects
Natural Resources: Forests, Rivers, Water, & Shorelines

Protect and restore forests, rivers, water, and shorelines.


Issue Chair: Raelene Gold, rgold@lwvwa.org(206) 303-7218
 DOWNLOAD the Forests Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Rivers Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Water Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Shorelines Issue Paper
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Right Now in Natural Resources

(Interested in the 2020 Session Recap? Click Here)

Our natural resources are impacted by climate change and also may reduce the impacts of climate change.

Forests

Increased temperatures and draught have resulted in dry, insect infested flammable forests greatly increasing the risks of wildfires. The State Department of Natural Resources which manages our state forests and private forest lands and oversees all firefighting operations was the subject of an extensive study.

There is a new major agency request bill for a dedicated fund for wildfire prevention and preparation this session. Prior bills in 2019 and 2020 funded by home owner policies failed.

Bills the League Supports

HB 1168  Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience Act.
Combines many of the agencies priority programs, increasing wildfire preparation personnel and equipment, shortening at risk forest restoration programs and increasing rural jobs. Request for a dedicated fund for $125 million per biennium from budget will be the challenge.

 STATUS UPDATE: Public hearing 1/22,8am, House Rural Development Committee.

SB 5063 Concerning an extending the expiration date for the Invasive Species Council from 2022 to 2032.
Invasive Species Council monitors and takes action on insect, animal, plant and wildlife invasives that can devastate Washington’s economy and environment. Current concerns include: Asian giant hornet, zebra and quagga mussels and northern pike. Essential bill to pass.

 STATUS UPDATE: Executive session 1/21, 8am Senate Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee

Rivers

High westside precipitation levels this fall and winter has resulted in some flooding causing more problems for the Chehalis River Basin. But this has also resulted in more snowpack which may help in summer river water temperatures and flow levels for fish, helping the Yakima River and Snake River basins.

The Chehalis, Yakima and Alpine Lakes Workgroups will be included in the Budgets.

Bills the League Supports

HB 1117  Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience Act.
Promoting salmon recovery through revisions to the state’s comprehensive planning network. It would require that salmon be included in front-end planning undertaken under the growth management act. It defines compensatory mitigation and net ecological gain as measures of salmon protection and mandates that these be covered in land use, critical areas and transportation plans as of January 2024.

 STATUS UPDATE: Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Environment & Energy at 8:00 am on January 21. Follow bill on Climate Change Issue Page under growth management act bills.

Water

High temperatures and draught impact the quantity and quality of our water supplies.

Bills the League Supports

HB 1139 Taking action to address lead in drinking water. Lead in schools' water would be tested and results reported to the school.

SB 5060 Preserving water rights for farmland and economic development. Positive goal of preserving the water rights of small farms that are not currently farmed; also may help prevent farmers selling water rights to out of state entities. Complexity of water right laws may make difficult to pass.

SJM 8001  PFAS contamination of surface and groundwater. Requesting various federal departments assist state and local governments in Washington state with monitoring and mitigating PFAS contamination of surface water and groundwater.

Shorelines

The League is addressing the need to respond to conditions threatening shorelines and public waters, such as development affecting public access, declines in water quality, reduction in shoreline habitat for fish and wildlife, stormwater and industrial pollution, and issues associated with industrial aquaculture and wastewater treatment plant spills. The current No Net Loss" standard is not working due to failures in assessment, monitoring and enforcement. We are advocating for a Net Gain Standard instead.

Bills the League Is Watching

HB 1099 Improving the state's climate response through updates to the state’s comprehensive planning framework. Sec.12 and 10 concerns Shorelines. See Climate Change Issue page for the growth management act bills for more information.

Northwest Innovation Works’ proposed fracked gas (methane) to methanol plant in Kalama, Washington would bring huge amounts of fracked gas into the state. The methanol would be exported to China to make plastics. The project has long been opposed by environmental groups, as the project would release huge amounts of green house gasses and contribute to climate change. Currently the Department of Ecology is considering the issuing a Shoreline permit for the project. The Department of Ecology and Governor have until January 20, 2021 to approve or deny the Shoreline permit for the project.


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