Fighting Climate Change & Its Effects
Forests & Rivers

Protect our forests from wildfires and preserve as important carbon sinks.
Protect our free-flowing rivers from dams, disturbance and depletion.


Issue Team Chair: Raelene Gold, rgold@lwvwa.org(206) 303-7218
DOWNLOAD the Forests & Rivers Issue Paper
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2020 Legislative Session Updates
(Interested in the 2019 Session Recap? Click Here)

FORESTS

Measures for the preparation for and prevention of wildfires, made great progress last session. Combined with bills from the 2018 session, there has been significant progress towards wildfire preparation in integrated training and deployment among the various Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firefighters, National Guard members and Correctional Department prisoners. More DNR firefighters, helicopters and other equipment have been secured, and on the ground pre-planning included. DNR has a twenty year forest health program to help prevent wildfires especially focused on at risk forests treatments of prescribed burning and thinning.

UPDATE: Last years DNR forest funding bill that met alot of opposition from the insurance industry, has been revised and reintroduced. Having a dedicated account for more forest wildfire preparation and prevention will cost less than the horrendous costs that come with large wildfires.

RIVERS 
River protection has not benefited from such forward thinking. Years of drought impacting the orchardists with junior water rights are being addressed in Yakima Basin Integrated Plan which continues to receive both state and federal funding. Flooding concerns on the Chehalis River are addressed in the Chehalis River Integrated Plan which has received state funding. Also, concerns about sufficient salmon for orcas, resulted in the passage of a bill Increasing Chinook salmon for Orcas, and restricting hydraulic project permits that damage the fish’s spawning habitat. The operating budget also included funding for a study regarding preparing for the outcome of the lower Snake River dams breeching or removal. The Transportation budget included funding for fish barrier removal, which will also help salmon, though a bill funding fish barrier removal for counties and cities helping connectivity did not pass.

Other important bills protecting rivers, including bills prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining from certain rivers, and revising hydraulic project eligibility standards for conservation district fish habitat enhancement, failed to pass. 

UPDATE: This session the bill addressing aquatic  dredge mining has been reintroduced. Also, a long term funding bill for the Chehalis Basin Plan has been introduced.

Click on Bill # for detailed information.  See UPDATES below.

Bills the League Supports

FORESTS

  • HB 1946 / SSSB 5873 Concerning Community Forests. Creates a Community Forest Grant Program and Community Forestland Account administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Helps communities to develop a local forest of mixed use. SHB 1946 Now in House Capital Budget Committee. Companion bill SSSB 5873 Reintroduced and in Senate Rules. UPDATE: In Senate Rules third reading.

  • HB 2228 Permitting early deployment of state fire services resources. Helps early rapid response to wildfires. Passed unanimously out of House Housing, Community Development Committee. Referred to House Appropriations.  Public hearing Feb. 6 in House Appropriations. UPDATE: Executive session held Feb.11,  HB 2228 passed 24-1, referred to House Rules 2 Review.   

  • HB 2413 Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Act.  Creates a new dedicated source of funding, the Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account, to be spent on: emergency firefighting, preparedness, prevention and forest health. Revenue source is a fee of $5 on each property and casualty insurance policy.  Proactively addresses staggering annual costs of wildfires. Costs to homeowner and auto policies is $5 each policy.  In House Appropriations Committee.

  • HB 2714 / SB 6498 Valuing the carbon in forest riparian easements. Establishes the forest riparian easement program for forest land owners. Part of a forest carbon sequestration strategy to lower carbon emissions. HB 2714 scheduled for public hearing on Jan. 26th in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  Executive session held Feb. 4. UPDATE: Substitute bill passed Executive session unanimously and referred to House Appropriations and scheduled for a Public hearing  Feb. 8. SB 6498 had public hearing Jan. 30 in Senate Agriculture, Water, natural Resources and Parks Committee.  

    UPDATE: SHB 2714 passed out of House Appropriations and on Feb. 11: referred to House Rules 2 Review. SB 6498 had public hearing Jan. 30 in Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee.  

    RIVERS

    • ESHB 1261 / SB 5322  Ensuring Department of Ecology compliance with the Clean Water Act by prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining and their discharges from waters of the state. Protects water quality and critical habitat for endangered salmon, steelhead and bull trout, protecting their spawning, rearing and migratory habitat from this destructive recreational gold mining practice. It’s very important to pass this bill to protect our rivers and spawning salmonSHB 1261 is reintroduced and in House Rules. UPDATE: On Feb. 12 ESHB 1261 adopted and placed on Third Reading; it passed 60 yeas, 35 nays, 0 absent, 3 excused, and on Feb. 14 was referred to Senate Environment, Energy and Technology. SB 5322 is in Senate Rules X file.  

    • UPDATE: SJM 8014  Concerning logging and mining in the upper Skagit watershed. Requests British Columbia work with the city of Seattle and Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission to prevent logging and mining in the donut hole of Upper Skagit watershed. Reintroduced and referred to Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources. Scheduled for public hearing Feb. 21 at 10am.

    Bill the League is Watching
    • HB 1154 Act relating to financing of Chehalis basin flood damage reduction and habitat restoration projects. Flooding of the Chehalis River basin is a problem, but an expensive dam is not the best way to solve the problem for a river with healthy salmon and bull trout runs. We think that funding shouldn’t precede the SEPA/ NEPA process, and Ecology will release the DEIS and hold public hearings starting in late March. UPDATE: We also have concerns about funding by $700 million general obligation bonds.  Public hearing held Feb. 4 in House Capital Budget, and Executive session Feb. 6. UPDATE: Executive session rescheduled in House Capital Budget for Feb. 10. UPDATE: SHB 1154 passed the House Capital Budget 24-1 and referred to House Rules 2 Review Feb. 11, and on Feb. 12 placed on second reading.

    Bill the League Opposed That Did Not Survive Cut-off

    • SB 1979 Relating to establishment of reasonable surface water flow levels.  Demands the Department of Ecology repeal rules establishing water unattainable water levels.    



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