DARRINGTON – Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday toured the site of a proposed aquatic restoration stewardship project with leaders from conservation organizations, the local timber industry and the Darrington community who are members of the newly formed Darrington Collaborative. He announced a $20,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce to support the group’s work restoring critical habitat, improving water quality and creating local jobs.
The Darrington Collaborative grew from the trust created between the conservation community and Darrington in the aftermath of the tragic state Route 530 landslide two years ago. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray initiated a dialogue between the community and conservation organizations with the support and encouragement of Inslee and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.
The group aims to bring together a variety of interests, including those of the local timber industry and conservation community, to increase ecologically sustainable timber harvests near Darrington and create jobs while improving the health of forests and watersheds.
“This community, recognized for its grit and optimism, has found a way to bring together groups with a common interest in finding a way forward,” Inslee said. “This collaborative effort will ensure the needs and interests of loggers, community leaders, environmentalists, students and others are incorporated in a meaningful and productive plan for years to come.”
“We have brought together a partnership of people from diverse backgrounds to assist the U.S. Forest Service Darrington ranger district with forestry and restoration projects,” said Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin. “Through the expertise of these individuals and community input, we are developing projects to improve ecological diversity and forest health while creating sustainable jobs in the forest.”
“The Darrington Collaborative is well positioned for success, with strong leadership from the local community, active engagement of diverse stakeholders and a science-based approach on forest restoration and adaptive management that is fully consistent with the Northwest Forest Plan,” said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society. “We have seen community-based collaboration produce remarkable environmental and social benefits elsewhere in Washington and our region.”
“Thanks to a sustained dialogue with Darrington leaders, congressional leaders and the governor’s office, this collaborative allows us to be part of a unique opportunity to engage in a scientifically grounded restoration effort that will have stewardship, educational and local economic benefits,” said Tom Uniack, conservation director for Washington Wild.
“The partnership provides a mechanism for stewardship contracts that will enable revenue from timber harvest to be directly invested in projects that benefit water quality and river health,” said Thomas O’Keefe, Ph.D., an aquatic ecologist and the Pacific Northwest stewardship director for American Whitewater. “Many important projects await funding within the Sauk and Stillaguamish watersheds, and through this program we will be able to tackle known water quality issues efficiently and proactively.”
“The collaborative empowers Darrington’s youth to learn and contribute to the ecological and economic health of the community through scientific monitoring, engineering and evaluating the effects of vegetation management and aquatic restoration,” said Oak Rankin, of the Glacier Peak Institute –Washington State University STEM.
The Darrington Collaborative steering committee is composed of:
- Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin
- Paul Wagner, Darrington Area Resources Association and Washington State Society of American Foresters
- Steve Skaglund, Three Rivers Contract Logging
- Bob Boyd, Darrington Area Resources Advocates
- Washington Wild
- The Wilderness Society
- Thomas O’Keefe, American Whitewater
- The Pew Charitable Trusts
- Oak Rankin, Glacier Peak Institute –Washington State University STEM
- Mike Town, Tesla STEM High School environmental sciences educator
- Representatives from the offices of Gov. Jay Inslee, U. S. Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Suzan DelBene, the U.S. Forest Service, the Sauk-Suiattle tribe and the Stillaguamish tribe serve as advisers on the steering committee.
More information can be found at www.DarringtonCollaborative.org.