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Peter Goldmark (D): Public Lands Commission

Peter Goldmark is candidate for Public Lands Commissioner, challenging incumbent Doug Sutherland (R). The Public Lands Commissioner runs the Washington Department of Natural Resources, which manages over five million acres Washington-owned forest and aquatic lands. Unfortunately, with Sutherland at the helm DNR has managed those lands to maximize natural resources extraction, resulting in dire consequences to those resources and to the residents of Washington State. Catastrophic flooding and landslides in areas down-slope and downstream of poorly managed DNR timber cuts is not uncommon. The most recent example being the Chehalis flood in December 2007 that closed I-5, resulted in millions of dollars in damage, and caused loss of human life.

We believe Peter Goldmark is the right person to challenge that legacy and to institute policies of sustainable management. Goldmark’s objective is to implement sustainable State Land management to benefit all the residents of Washington; and to maintain our forest, range, and aquatic lands in a balanced, healthy ecosystem.

As an Okanogan rancher and wheat farmer Goldmark developed a grain-fed cattle operation that balances the production of cattle feed and range use with the delicate dry lands in Eastern Washington, sustaining healthy soils, vegetation, and cattle. His experience as the director of the Washington Department of Agriculture, on the WSU Board of Regents, as a local school board member, and as a volunteer firefighter gives him on-the-ground experience with DNR land management functions.

Goldmark’s specific objectives are to:

  • Enforce existing rules that prohibit logging on steep slopes and in flood prone areas
  • Provide a more stable and sustainable revenue source for schools than harvest of timber on state lands
  • Provide long-standing jobs and recreation access by managing state lands for protection of ecosystem functions
  • Restrict sale of public lands for short term profit
  • Institute state policy that addresses climate change through state land reforestation and FSC certification
  • Diversify the revenue sources provided by state lands for local government financing, while managing for healthy ecosystems

Aquatic lands underlying Puget Sound are managed by the Department of Natural Resources and leased to public and private interests, restricting public access to the relatively small proportion of beaches and tidelands that are in public ownership. Industrial use of shore lands for gravel mining, barging and geoduck aquaculture leaves the tidelands with little value for any other use.

The Maury Island Aquatic Reserve was repealed under incumbent Doug Sutherland’s management and, when finally reinstated under public pressure, the Reserve was structured to allow industrial barging operations in the Reserve. Salmon in the closely held propagation pens are susceptible to disease, which is then is transmitted in the surrounding waters, infecting native fish. These management issues need to be revisited with the broader objective of preserving the value of aquatic ecosystems for long-term benefit to Washington residents, and to the wild fish and shellfish populations of the Sound.

The current DNR management of the timber harvest in State and private forests poses a threat to salmon (DNR’s authority to manage timber harvests on private lands is delegated under the Habitat Conservation Plan for threatened Chinook Salmon). Implementation of the Forest and Fish Rules and other rules regulating timber cuts needs closer scrutiny. The objective of maximizing timber harvest income should be not supersede the goal of protecting habitat for recovering wild salmon in Washington.

It is time to turn the priority for management of Washington State’s precious public lands to public benefit. We look forward to a new era at the Department of Natural Resources. An era that will usher in the clean-up of Puget Sound (in conjunction with the Puget Sound Partnership); maintain aquatic lands leases for the benefit of the entire ecosystem (not just single-species aquaculture operations); and restore forests systems, providing a variety of ecosystem functions and generating income by considering concerns other than just a maximum dollar to the highest bidder.

Vote for Peter Goldmark for Public Lands Commissioner and help to make this possible. To learn more about Goldmark’s cattle ranch check out http://www.bunchgrassbeef.com, or his campaign and management ideas for the Department of Natural Resources at http://petergoldmark.com.

Goldmark's campaign website is http://www.petergoldmark.com.