“The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) is a state law that requires state and local governments to manage Washington’s growth by identifying and protecting critical areas and natural resource lands, designating urban growth areas, preparing comprehensive plans and implementing them through capital investments and development regulations. This approach to growth management is unique among states. The act (Chapter 36.70A RCW)  was adopted by the Legislature in 1990.”
Presently Pend Oreille County is working to update its Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulations. This update is required by law. All updates must be in compliance with the Growth Management Act and must have public input and approval.
I believe our County would be running unabated on land use planning without these two extremely important documents.
Furthermore, I have a genuine concern that our present County Commissioners are more intent on circumventing the GMA rules and manipulating the Pend Oreille County’s Comprehensive Plans & Regulations protecting our forest and agricultural lands, rather than enforcing them.
- Support of the proposed Newport silicon metal smelter that would destroy 188 acres of productive timberland and wildlife habitat;
- Redesignating 63% of our county’s public lands into rural designations;
- Promoting a 3.5 mile loop spur railroad line that would cut up hundreds of acres of valuable and productive forestland, agricultural land and wetland ecosystems;
- Mismanaging productive county forest land to the point it can’t produce sustainable revenue or the revenue needed to clean up the mess;
- Swapping productive public forest land for productive private forest land to construct a proposed business park.
Any one of these examples would open up Pend Oreille County to undesirable urban sprawl and industrial development. The potential would exist that an industrial development could be sited next door to one of our parks or recreation areas or a commercial chicken farm could be located next to a private wedding and events venue. Those possibilities would exist.
In other words, it is of real concern that our present County Commissioners have much more of an interest in privatizing our timber and agricultural lands rather than protecting them for today and future generations as required by law.
I suppose one could ask why is it important to protect our forestlands, agricultural lands and open space ecosystems?
Simple. Without our forest and ag land we would all starve to death. Those lands are essential for our survival. Food products do not come from the grocery store, lumber does not come from building supply stores, and affordable clean air and water can’t be bought anywhere.
Our forest lands in Washington and Pend Oreille County are rapidly shrinking due to climate change, urban sprawl, over development, and they are being abused and mismanaged to the point our public and privately-owned forests are being cremated.
In addition, I agree with Futurewise. I can’t support land swaps in which environmentally sensitive forestland would be transferred out of “public lands into the ownership of a logging corporation, land developer or similar party who would degrade the environmental value of the land.”
Whether it is the public lands of the of the United States, Washington state public lands or Pend Oreille County public lands, they are indispensable as they provide open spaces, fresh, clean potable water, critical habitat for native flora and fauna, natural rivers and lakes, a last refuge for many threatened and endangered ecosystems, and opportunities for outdoor activities and events, plus places where we can relax and refresh our minds and bodies. Public land should be retained in public ownership, managed and protected as a valuable natural resource and only traded in circumstances that meet the highest environmental standards and principles.