Mt. Spokane, one of our community’s most valuable natural areas has been under constant pressure by development and logging.  Today, the mountain won a reprieve.  The Spokane County Department of Building and Planning decided to withdraw its permit that authorized logging on the western part of Mount Spokane State Park.  This decision will help prevent the further fragmentation of the remaining old-growth forest on Mt. Spokane .  It will also preserve important Biodiversity Areas and Corridors, Riparian zones, and Moose, Elk, and other wildlife habitats.  Below is the press release issued today by The Lands Council and here is a link to their website.

SPOKANE, Washington — Today Mike Dempsey, the Hearing Examiner for the Spokane County Department of Building and Planning, withdrew the department’s January, 2013 permit which authorized logging on the west slope of Mt. Spokane, within Mount Spokane State Park. The logging would fragment the largest remaining old-growth forest in Spokane County. The Hearing Examiner cited violations of the Spokane Critical Areas Ordinance, stating in his Opinion:

“The HMP (Habitat Management Plan) and the SEIS both fail to quantify the significant impacts of the timber harvest permit, and ski expansion project, on the Old-growth/Mature Forests, Biodiversity Areas and Corridors, Riparian, and Moose and Elk priority wildlife habitats present on the site; or the degree to which mitigating measures recommended in such documents will reduce such impacts. The SEIS, and Mr. Towey during his testimony, conceded that fragmentation of such habitats will occur.”

Community members support the protection of Mt. Spokane

Members of the Spokane Community, the Sierra Club, and staff at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission felt similar and lent energy to the decision of the Spokane County Department of Building and Planning to protect Mount Spokane.

According to a Washington Parks and Recreation Commission’s Staff Report, the forests at issue in this case “represent the highest level of significance of natural resources in the State Parks system.”  Parks staff “determined that the proposed ski area expansion is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.”

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The Lands Council is a part of the Save Mt Spokane Coalition, formed to protect the wildlife and natural habitat on the mountain. The Coalition agrees with improving the existing the ski area, already impacting 2/3 of the mountain’s alpine habitat, and has even prepared an alternative vision, Mt. Spokane 2020, for the park that includes upgrades to lifts, lodge and new runs within the existing ski area on the north, east and south sides of the mountain. (http://savemtspokane.org/Mt_Spokane_2020_files/mt.spokane_brochure-1.pdf)

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“Mt Spokane is a key part of the natural heritage of our region and must be protected,” said Chris Bachman of the Sierra Club. “If this magnificent old-growth forest is cut down, future generations will lose out, and rare wildlife species on the mountain may never return.”

It should be noted that in a separate action, in February the Washington State Court of Appeals enjoined all ski area expansion activities until it could rule on propriety of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s action to reclassify the western slope of Mt. Spokane, allowing a new ski lift and runs. A hearing before that Court is set for April 9.

Our attorney for both cases is David Bricklin of Seattle.

 

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Filed under: Environment

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