Port Ludlow logging on hold By Nicholas Johnson of the Leader Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 3:30 am
Logging in Port Ludlow
Forestland may be harvested as a renewable resource, such as this logging activity along Oak Bay Road near the Port Ludlow Village Center. Commercial timber harvesting is not allowed, however, in specific “Open Space Reserve” areas within the Port Ludlow Master Plan Resort boundaries. Jefferson County posted a “stop work” order April 7 to halt “Open Space Reserve” logging activity in Ludlow. Photo by Patrick J. Sullivan
Port Ludlow Associates has called off a 25 acre timber harvest within the Port Ludlow Master Planned Resort after learning Friday, April 3 that Jefferson County prohibits such activity.
County planner David Wayne Johnson posted a stopwork order Tuesday, April 7 at the harvest site south of Paradise Bay Road and east of homes along Teal Lake Road.
“We didn’t know it wasn’t allowed,” Diana Smeland, president of Port Ludlow Associates (PLA) said on Tuesday. “If David had come forward earlier or someone had told us, we wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
Under contract with PLA, Cedarland Forest Resources of Gig Harbor, Washington began harvesting in March, said Smeland, who was not sure how many board feet of timber had been cut so far. Harvesting began about 30 days ago and the project was expected to take 30 to 45 days to complete.
“It’s not like we just went in and slashed the trees,” Smeland said. We went in and picked trees. We worked with the homeowners and left trees in based on their comments.”
Smeland said many of those working for PLA came from Pope Resources, a major timber harvesting company operating in Washington and Oregon.
“We’re used to thinking of trees as farming, as a crop that’s a renewable resource,” said Smeland, clarifying PLA’s intent was to thin the forestland, not clear cut it for future development. “Our intent was to log it and replant in the fall and winter. That’s still our plan, unless we’re told we can’t.”
During the April 2 meeting of the Port Ludlow Village Council, a resident who lives near the harvest site raised the question of whether such activity is allowed within the master planned resort.
The next day, after checking county code, Johnson sent Smeland an email notifying her that the PLA Logging in Port Ludlow Forestland may be harvested as a renewable resource, such as this logging activity along Oak Bay Road near the Port Ludlow Village Center. Commercial timber harvesting is not allowed, however, in specific “Open Space Reserve” areas within the Port Ludlow Master Plan Resort boundaries.
Jefferson County posted a “stop work” order April 7 to halt “Open Space Reserve” logging activity in Ludlow. Photo by Patrick J. Sullivan was harvesting on land zoned as Open Space Reserve, an area in which the county prohibits commercial harvesting.
“I didn’t know that this was going on or where it was going on or if it was an allowed use,” said Johnson, who looked into the purpose of that zoning designation upon learning of the harvesting. “It’s pretty clear the purpose of that area is not about anything but preserving the natural aesthetic. It’s more about maintaining vegetation than removing it.”
Johnson said the PLA is allowed to harvest in other areas of the master planned resort, as has been done around the resort’s golf course and in areas zoned for single family residences.
In this case, the PLA had a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permit to harvest and sell timber from the site. That permit is necessary when planning to harvest more than 5,000 boardfeet of merchantable timber, which amounts to about 2 acres or one full logtruck, according to DNR.
Bill Dean, a member of the Port Ludlow Village Council, said most residents were well aware of the harvesting.
“The fact that there was going to be harvesting was not a secret,” Dean said. “What was not known to any of us was that it was not allowed.”
Dean said area residents had become more aware of harvesting activity in the area after Pope Resources’ Olympic Resource Management clear cut a swath of stateowned forestland just south of Watson Road earlier this year.
“The fact that the parcel south of Watson Road was clear cut in the last 60 days has heightened everybody’s concern in Port Ludlow to clear cutting,” said Dean, pointing out that Olympic Resource Management was initially starting work at 4:30 a.m. and disturbing residents with noise before agreeing to start later each morning. “It used to be forest and now there’s this big open field with tree stumps.”
Johnson said if it wanted to, PLA could request the county do a code interpretation and could appeal the resulting decision to superior court. Smeland said that won’t be necessary.
“We’re going to comply with what DCD says,” she said.
As for who dropped the ball, both Johnson and Smeland are sharing blame at the moment.
“Our ability to enforce the code is severely curtailed by a lack of resources,” Johnson said, acknowledging that one Port Ludlow resident had requested county officials conduct an investigation into potentially illegal harvesting. “To call for an investigation begs the question: what don’t you want us to do in order to make time for that? We just don’t have the resources and it can be hard to explain that to people.”
Smeland said she would have expected Johnson could have checked the legality of the PLA’s harvesting as it was well publicized in the months prior to starting, though she also said she understands the county’s limitations.
“How do they keep up with everything?” Smeland asked. “If you had to check any little thing every single day, how could you even do that? I’m not going to point any fingers. In fact, I probably should have looked closer.”
If allowed to continue, PLA plans to harvest on other parcels zoned as within the master planned resort just north of its current harvest site.
Open Space Reserve Development of the Port Ludlow Master Planned Resort was initiated by timber company Pope & Talbot in the late 1960s on 1,800 acres surrounding the inner portions of Port Ludlow Bay. Land ownership in 1985 was transferred to Pope Resources, and sold in 2001 to Port Ludlow Associates, LLC.
Keep up on DNR permits
To learn about and keep track of newly issued state Department of Natural Resources forest practice permits, visit
1.usa.gov/1FyBEBB where you can sign up for email notifications through DNR’s Forest Practices Application Review System.