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Letters to WIP

Report from a threatened forest

Dear WIP and WIP readers,

The following plea was transmitted in a phone call from a 20-year old tree sitter perched 80 feet up in the branches of a douglas fir in the Willamette National Forest, near the McKenzie River. 

Cascadia Forest Defenders are present in the woods to save trees and animals in the forest from being destroyed as part of the “Goose Project” timber sales.  The sales involve about 2000 acres of heavy timber, including old growth.

An Environmental Impact Statement related to the sale contains a section detailing the presence of spotted owls and bull trout in the forest.  According to the tree sitter, the logging companies have permission to destroy the owl under an [outrageous] practice known as “incidental take.”

Like the spotted owl, bull trout are also on the endangered species list. Bull trout in this forest depend on the shade of dense trees to cool the rivers and streams they need to survive and reproduce. 

Cascadia Forest Defenders are out there, right this minute, high in the trees, freezing cold, helping to keep our precious living forests alive. Please go to the Cascadia Forest Defenders website! Please give a donation if you can (they need more ropes, more equipment in the trees to be a “tree sitter”, and more supplies to maintain themselves in the trees). Even a small donation is appreciated!

A friend of the forest


County fires their expert on habitat preservation

Dear WIP,

The Thurston County Commissioners recently fired Mr. Brent Butler as Resource Stewardship Director. Butler has done an excellent job explaining complicated county rules and regulations.

In public meetings Butler spoke to the issue of the gophers and the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). His Power Point presentations furthered the interests of Thurston County with thorough, unbiased, and simple explanations. Butler attended Harvard University and is African-American.

The county has to resolve the “gopher issue,” but instead, the Commissioners have fired the expert who is their point person on this issue.

Thurston County is dragging its feet on the Habitat Conservation Plan issue, while they receive tons of grant money from the federal government on this issue. So now the Thurston County Commissioners have fired the man that was in charge of this process for the past 16 months. Now the County Commissioners will have to hire someone new. Now this new employee will take six to eight months to “get up to speed” to understand these complicated rules and regulations regarding the gopher and critical area issues.

The Thurston County Commissioners are not acting “in good faith.” They have lost the trust and respect of the community, of the people with property in this area who want to build a home, of the builders of this community who want some direction and some leadership to go forward to put this problem to bed.

L Riner

The writer is a 30-year resident of Olympia and long-time worker for progressive change.


Vote NO on Olympia ballot Prop 1

Dear WIP,

I got this letter from Jim Lazar about Olympia ballot Proposition 1—suggesting we vote NO. Prop. 1 would increase city property taxes by about 20%.  While the measure says it’s dedicated to public safety, in fact it is an unrestricted levy lid lift in the property tax. There is nothing that would prevent the City from using this new money to replace existing tax funding for public safety and then redirect the existing public safety budget to other purposes. That’s exactly what happened when the Parks and Sidewalks tax was approved by voters in 2014.  The city diverted over $5 million of previously committed parks funding to non-parks purposes through a process called “supplantation,” replacing it with the newly voted money. That could happen again if Prop. 1 passes. 

The city budget has grown sharply.  We have voted for many new taxes, including a “Public Safety” sales tax in 2012 that promised to fund the downtown walking patrol—a promise broken this year.  The city is engaged in clever deception, calling this a “public safety” tax increase. There is no guarantee whatever that the “new” money will be added to existing public safety funding. Unless they draft an unambiguous measure, that guarantees existing public safety money cannot be diverted…I recommend a NO vote.  Jim Lazar is an economist and Olympia resident since 1977.

He included a table, too.

Recent Olympia Revenue Increase Measures

2004 3% Utility tax for Parks & Sidewalks

2008 Fire Station Bond Property Tax

2009 $20/vehicle registration fee

2010 Property tax levy lid lift (public safety)

2012 Public Safety 0.1% sales tax

2015 Metro Parks District (property tax)

2016 Additional $20/vehicle fee

2017 Proposed additional levy lid lift

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