Evergreen Islands Appeals Mount Erie Clear-Cutting

by Tom Glade Saturday, August 24, 2013 8:16 AM

Evergreen Islands has appealed Skagit County’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) decision on the environmental impacts of clear-cutting 40 acres of forest on the south face of Mount Erie.  The decision, a Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance (MDNS), allows the ‘harvesting’ of approximately 900,000 board feet of timber.

Evergreen Islands and lots of other people wrote to the County and expressed our concerns about the clear-cutting.  In the our letter included below, Evergreen Islands asked  Skagit County to change their decision to a Determination of Significance, which would have required an Environmental Impact Statement, but to no avail.

The appeal will be heard before the Skagit County Hearing Examiner at a date yet to be scheduled.  Evergreen Islands has retained an attorney to present the reasons why the slopes of Mount Erie should not be clear-cut.  Our effort to thwart the clear-cutting will be expensive (e.g. the fee for the Hearing Examiner appeal was $1,000).

You can financially help with this appeal by making a tax-deductible donation to Evergreen Islands.


June 28, 2013

To:       Dale Pernula, Director
            Skagit County Planning & Development Services
CC:      John Cooper, Natural Resource Planner
            Skagit County Planning & Development Services

Re:      PL13-0102, Mount Erie Logging Permit

Dear Mr. Pernula:
On the behalf of Evergreen Islands, I am submitting this comment letter, which addresses the PL13-0102 application to harvest approximately 900,000 board feet of timber on a 40 acre parcel on the slopes of Mount Erie, a mountain within the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL).
Evergreen Islands believes that the County made an “error in law” when Skagit County, the lead State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) agency, decided that an Environmental Impact Statement was not required1 for this application. The proposed action to clear cut 40 acres on Fidalgo Island “is likely to have a probable significant adverse environmental impact” on the quality of Fidalgo Island’s environment.
The decision fails to recognize the cultural and environmental importance of the adjacent Anacortes Community Forest Lands and the nearby Deception Pass State Park (less than a mile to the south – see Figure 2 in the attachments).  Figure 1 illustrates the location of the subject property.
The Anacortes Community Forest Lands is classified as a Fish And Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area in the Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance2 (AMC 17.70.540)
Figure 1. Location of Parcel 19301
Mount_Erie_BingBirdsEyeView2
The inappropriate SEPA threshold determination was based on an incomplete and an inadequate SEPA Checklist. The following comments address the incompleteness and the inadequacies of the checklist.
11. Aesthetics3
b. What views in the immediate vicinity would be altered or obstructed?

Amazingly the response to this question was none.  The following two photographs show that the views of Mount Erie will change not only dramatically, but also for many, many years in the future.

MountainProject

Mountain Project website

tumblr_mefz98eutY1rx4hiao1_1280

Philip Elverum

13.     Historic and cultural preservation4
a.  Are there any places or objects listed on, or proposed for, national, state, or local preservation registers known to be on or next to the site? If so, generally describe.

As mentioned previously, Mount Erie is a mountain within the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL). The Anacortes Community Forest Lands is classified as a Fish And Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area in the Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance5 (AMC 17.70.540). The intention of this section Anacortes Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) is to preserve the local fish and wildlife habit, and thereby the Anacortes CAO qualifies as a local preservation register.
b.  Generally describe any landmarks or evidence of historic, archaeological, scientific, or cultural importance known to be on or next to the site.

Mount Erie is a quintessential Skagit County landmark, a prominent feature that stands out when one enters the Skagit County on I-5 from either the north or the south. Mount Erie is culturally important to the people living on Fidalgo Island because of its prominence.  If the clear-cutting is allowed, Mount Erie will be defaced, and its resulting scars will not be healed for many decades
Conclusion
Evergreen Islands asks the Planning Director, as the SEPA responsible official, to rescind your decision and replace it with a Decision of Significance, which will require an Environmental Impact Study to determine the impacts of clear-cutting the slopes of Mount Erie. The clear-cutting will likely have a probable significant adverse environmental impact on the quality of Fidalgo Island’s environment.

Respectfully yours,
TomGlade

Tom Glade, President

 

REFERENCES

1
WAC 197-11-330,  Threshold determination process
2 Anacortes Municipal Code 17.50.570.D, Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) Standards.
(Title 17 – ZONING; Article VI. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Areas; 17.70.570 – Performance standards—Specific habitats)
http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=16193&stateId=47&stateName=Washington
3 WAC 197-11-960, Environmental checklist, Item 10.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=197-11-960
4 WAC 197-11-960, Environmental checklist, Item 13.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=197-11-960

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