Lake Cavanaugh Trust Update

It is with a sad heart that I have to tell you that the Trust has officially withdrawn its appeal of the case against Nielsen Brothers Inc. Nielsen Brothers logged all of Unit 1 including the trees on the alluvial fan this past week. May 15th was the day logging could begin. Our Motion for Stay was denied by the Pollution Control Hearing Board on May 14th. They started logging Unit 1 on June 5th and per their lawyer cut the trees on the alluvial fan and all of Unit 1. Road construction is still going on as I write this.

The Trust’s basis of the Motion for Stay was the illegal proposed harvest of trees on an active alluvial fan. Nielsen Brothers and DNR stated it was “inactive”, our expert stated it was “active”. In addition, it was pointed out that our hearing had been scheduled for April 22, 2020 but due to Covid 19 was postponed by PCHB until June 22, 2020. The Trust had purposefully scheduled the hearing in April to be before the May 15 deadline.

In denying our Motion for Stay, PCHB stated,”…..On the technical question of the status of IAF-1(alluvial fan), it is also appropriate to give deference to DNR as the agency with specialized knowledge and expertise in this area of forest practices regulation.” The PCHB did not take into account the main reason for the Motion for Stay—-the fact that the hearing was delayed due to Covid 19 and thus past the cut date of May 15.

The trees on the alluvial fan are cut as are all the trees in Unit 1, the damage has been done. Therefore, there is no reason to pursue it further with PCHB and incur more legal costs.

Our lawyers filed a Withdrawal of Appeal on June 10 with PCHB and PCHB sent an official dismissal acknowledgement on June 11th. Case is closed on this Forest Practices Application (FPA).

It is hard to accept that we lost the battle but the Trust did make a difference. Nielsen Brothers Inc. submitted 4 different FPAs with 6 changes in total to these FPAs all covering the same area. Why did they do this? Because we kept challenging what they were doing. As a result the area that was logged, and may be logged, in Units 2 & 3 (Bob McCullough’s civil case) has been reduced. The Trust doggedly challenged issues like setbacks for streams and surrounding marble murrelet area, and steep slopes.

The Trust attempted to discuss purchase of the land and also tried to mediate issues with Nielsen Brothers. They did not want to talk about a purchase nor negotiate the various proposals we presented; instead our attempts were rejected. They clearly wanted to log the area.

The Road A issue with Skagit County Public Works goes down as another loss. In 1994 it was decided that the right of way could not be opened for access to the same area that Nielsen Brothers Inc. now owns. All of our calls, emails (over 90) objecting to the opening of that right of way to Public Works did no good. 39 of you showed up on July 3, 2019 for a Commissioners meeting. The Trust prepared a 100 page booklet for all

three commissioners with your objections to the opening of the right of way and concerns about safety for you and your homes with accompanying photos. It was pointed out what the proposed cutting on such steep slopes could do given the history of slides in this area. Evidence of past slides and flooding in the area covering the proposed logging was presented. The commissioners listened, talked to Public Works and gave their OK. Times are different now it seems than in 1994.

It has been nearly two years that the Trust has been involved in this fight. We are proud that we have been able to make a difference in what will happen within this current FPA, but frustrated by the way PCHB handled this hearing. We know that Nielsen Brothers Inc. intends to log the entire parcel of land they purchased in 2018. This current FPA is a small portion of that land purchase. The Trust will continue to monitor their actions and fight any additional Forest Practice Applications they submit.

Thank you to those who contributed monetarily and all the others who gave us encouragement. We may have lost these battles but we are not going away and will continue to fight for the preservation of the lake and the land surrounding Lake Cavanaugh.

Continue to check the Trust website for information:

Cathy Katte, President

And the rest of the Lake Cavanaugh Trust team: Tracie Douglas, Kimberle Brown, Bob McCullough, and Alex McCullough


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