A tough defeat. Although many people spoke and wrote to Council, Lusignan Forestry contract renewed. At no time did City acknowledge that cutting 97% of volume equals a clear-cut. And, apparently, the clear-cutting is already happening, this contract is just a renewal. So a forest of large trees, 32”->42” wide, directly above the reservoir, will fall, for a net profit to City of $250K. Council noted that they can cancel the contract at any time. In my years observing Council, I have never seen that happen.
I will say that Council cares about the watershed very much. They listened to Dir. Apfelbeck’s long, detailed presentation and came away with the idea that Forestry was thinning to manage forest health, and would replant to species that are not Doug fir. The facts in the permit application are these: 97% of volume will be harvested. That’s a clear-cut. Replanting to 350 Doug fir seedlings/ac is the only reforestation.
There was a lot of talk about how these black and white figures aren’t real. That only one species for replanting was listed “to allow flexibility”. I’ve done mitigation plans for permits. The way you get flexibility is a species list of different seedlings you may plant. The contract was so brief and full of references to Forestry Mgr’s directives “to allow flexibility”. I’ve written land-use regulations. Allowing flexibility never resulted in developers or contractors doing more for a project.
Anyhow, quite a discouraging evening.
PSE is giving up to $2500/yr to those impacted by Covid. It’s $$ they have to give away, so go get it if you need it. City is buying replacement vehicles that are all either internal combustion or “hybrid”. They’ll try to see if they can maybe find some vehicles that are electric.
2. MAYOR’S REPORT
Covid cases have declined steadily over past few months. CDC recommends vaccination, indoor masking, social distancing, get the booster shot. Mayor takes a big gulp and repeats the recommendation for vaccination. Almost $139M in permit activity so far in 2021. $72M pending – that’s almost = to 2018 total! Lots of volume, lots of value. We got $1.7M to improve Washington & 11th, including The Roundabout. West Bremerton Wastewater Treatment Plant got an award for 2020 – no mention of the Effluent Bombshell report on nitrogen levels.
3. PUBLIC RECOGNITION
Kiaha Long – congratulated the winners of the Nov 2 election. Wants City to have compassion on homeless people in this cold weather. Suzanne Griffith wants to comment on forest issues, deferred to Item 6A.
4. INFORMATION ONLY
A. Puget Sound Energy Storm Preparation Briefing with Brandon Capps, Interim Local Government Affairs & Public Policy Representative for PSE
PSE’s Safety Agenda / Storm Preparedness. There will be Q&A at the end. Don’t touch downed power lines, etc. And next, how they restore power – to hospitals, water treatment plants, other essential services, largest # of customers first. You gotta call if your power’s out, they don’t mystically know. Lots of online resources available to those who have electricity or a charged phone that’s not on WiFi. Etc. Kiaha Long says that this is very informative, perhaps hand out flyers to customers. Simpson asks if Mr Capps could put up the contact info again. He does. Daugs asks if City can link to PSE from its website. Dennehy asks what are the criteria for Covid relief. You can get up to $2500/yr if you were impacted by Covid.
5. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Claims & Check Register; B. Minutes of Meeting – November 17, 2021 Approved unanimously.
6. GENERAL BUSINESS
A. Professional Services Agreement with Lusignan Forestry, Inc. for Timber Harvest Management and Marketing Services
Cami Apfelbeck presents, with Jim Frost of Lusignan, Tom Knuckey, David Denis the City Forester. City has actively managed forest since 1952, first Mgmt Plan in 1986, updated 1996. UW set 2.5M board feet as max harvest level, has usually been about 1.3M. Both Utility Land Mgmt Plan and Forest Mgmt Plan to be updated in 2022. 1st priority has always been protection of drinking water. Every year, City does Water Utility Operations & Maint, forest roads provide access to facilities; Forest Health by disease removal/control & veg control & thinning. Wildfire prevention, response, and recovery – forest roads provide critical access and potential fire breaks. Roads also necessary for police patrols and access to communication towers. The Forest Practices Act and Rules “protects public resources while maintaining a viable forest products industry.” The FPA governs timber harvest and reforestation. DNR “may inspect and audit harvest areas” (in my experience, when an agency says “may inspect”, it generally doesn’t inspect). She goes through the permit application process. She says City isn’t driven by $$ when they choose sites to harvest. She emphasizes that we harvest less than 1% of our 8400 acres. There is thinning and “limited harvest and reforestation to diversify species and age, and remove/control disease”. Doug fir very subject to laminated root rot, other spp not so much [not accurate, per the USFS]. They list only Doug fir on the Forest Practices Application because “it gives us flexibility” to plant other spp. [What?] Protective measures go above and beyond what’s required. To increase diversity, City plants seedlings of Doug fir, Cedar, Lodge Pole Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Alder, Black Cottonwood.
Public comment: I make my points. Cami explains that she’s not a forester, but she talks about the need for eliminating “pockets” of root rot. Her greatest fear is that the forest around the reservoir will catch on fire, which would of course be a huge load of sediment! She maintains that clear-cutting will reduce the threat of wildfire. Charlie Michel asks is it worth it, in the face of the climate crisis, to cut down these trees and release this carbon? Cami says that this is the kind of question that should come when we update the Forest Mgmt Plan in 2022. Suzanne Griffith is slightly concerned about the stream, but this one doesn’t seem to be very important. Asks about fuel treatment. Says my points are valid, but clear-cutting is a weighted term. Can City thin? Jim Frost of Lusignan says they do marketing, have done some thinning in the past. Doug fir grows best in clear-cuts. It’s shade-intolerant so seedlings die if only planted in thinned areas. Erinn Howell, Master Composter, Potent Activist. She says climate crisis is real, we have the chance to respond to it by changing our ways. Facts about value of undisturbed forest, especially in watersheds like ours. Erosion a big deal, forests act as filters. Let’s free our community from business as usual. What climate crisis disaster will it take to make elected officials change their ways? And who fights the fires after Lusignan leaves? Cami says DNR receives fees from City every year to fight the fires. Adds that $250K is our annual net profit. It’s not much, she admits. Jackie Stanfill asks about any other land swaps, because last land swap the City got a bunch of land that they immediately rezoned from 1 dwelling per 20 ac to 200! Cami talks about watershed protection by adding more land around the watershed. Doesn’t really answer Stanfill’s question. Sue Deerman implores Council not to log Brem’ton watershed. Doesn’t just harm the soil, disturbs the native plants & wildlife. Where the trees go, there goes the water quality. Worries about herbicides. Cami says they do NOT spray within the watershed. Sue asks more questions. [Hey! How come everybody but me gets to comment repeatedly?]
Gorman asks for the question. Dennehy moves to postpone this item to the first February Council meeting to give Council. Daugs seconds. [WOW! WOW!]
Dennehy asks for discussion. Was shocked by shortness of contract, a 5-yr contract in 13 pages that sets no defined limits on board feet, oversight, etc. Gorman makes a point of order to limit discussion to the motion to postpone. Cami says that this contract will expire 12/31, harvest is in progress, logs will be left on the ground. Knuckey says this has become a discussion on how we should manage harvest, should be deferred to the 2022 Forest Mgmt Plan update. Daugs asks a few clarifying questions. Current harvest is contracted with Lusignan? Yes, says Cami. Daugs asks what would or could happen if contract isn’t renewed? Cami says contract is so brief because City decides how, when, where to harvest. This gives Forestry flexibility. Goodnow points out that Lusignan is a broker. “This contract has almost nothing to do with cutting trees down”. This contract only assures that when we need trees cut down, we cut them down. He wants to renew the contract and then put a pause on new harvesting. We should ensure that this is the company we use when we need trees cut down. Cami points out that we harvest and then reforest, also have bought 3 yrs supply of seedlings. She says Forestry has a process that has momentum and turning it around will take years. Simpson thinks Goodnow was spot on. The contract will identify Lusignan as the company we use when we need trees cut down. This discussion should take place when the Forest Management Plan is updated. We don’t want to let the trees lie on the ground and rot because it’s important we take care of our watershed. Sullivan agrees with Goodnow and Simpson. Dennehy acknowledges that the point Goodnow makes is a good one. He wants the contract amended to make sure that City AND Forestry Mgr (Cami, right now) must agree on how, what, where, and when to cut.
Hoover interjects to say we have to first read the main motion. Dennehy so moves, Simpson seconds. Gorman asks if anyone wants to postpone. No one does. Dennehy asks to amend the main motion, Exhibit B, “harvest levels, if any, are entirely the decision of the City of Bremerton, dependent and reliant upon the Comprehensive Forestry Management Plan” [language added as amendment]. Goodnow seconds. Asks if this language is strong enough. Finnell says this opens us up to third-party lawsuits. The amendment fails, 6-1, Dennehy opposing. Daugs asks, we’re not known for clear-cutting that area, we exclude hikers & bikers to keep our water clean. She’s concerned about climate crisis, how long have we been buying land to protect the water? Over 100 years, says Cami. Praise for watershed flows back and forth. Daugs points out that we can cancel this contract at any time, we’ll continue keeping the watershed pure and clear for our water quality. Praises staff for carrying us through in the past, and is sure they’ll carry us through in the future. Simpson asks how long we’ve used Lusignan. 11 years, Cami says. He says it’s a great way to manage and preserve the watershed. Gorman asks if other similar watersheds cut trees and manage them? Dave Denis says yes. Gorman has no more questions. The motion carries unanimously.
B. Purchase of 2022 Replacement Vehicles and Equipment
This is the annual December request. Chris Mottner presents. Purchase will save the City some $23K as compared to City budget. I echo Charlie Michel’s earlier comments, he also comments that we should not buy any more internal combustion engines. Mottner responds that there are a number of electric and hybrid [would like to know which ones!]. Charlie picks right up on the hybrid thing, compares them to being a little bit pregnant. He sees why we can’t buy electric ploughs, but on some of the others, can we wait a bit? Mottner says we have to get gas engines for the police.
Daugs says we do this every year. But we have to move towards electric. It’s better for our community and it’s better for our planet. Simpson says these are vehicles we need for the City, Start Transcript Thank you Let’s present. Yeah. These are vehicles that we need for the, for the city. 19:58:13 It provides the services that the city requires to help help out with, with doing the services that the people need. And it’s nice to see that we’re actually getting some of the vehicles are hybrids, because the six, six extends our capability of what we can do do. Right now it’s not really practical for cop cars to be all electric because they use a lot of electricity for all the lighting and radios and everything else that they do. So he having a hybrid actually works I mean we have some of the largest hybrids and we have some of the largest hybrid motor vehicles that state. Our ferries. Yeah, and they’re great. So the fact that we’re, we’re moving towards hybrids for some of our vehicles. 19:59:01 Great. Let’s, let’s continue forward with that. Thank you. End Transcript. Younger speaks up to say that Mottner didn’t answer Charlie’s question. Are there electric vehicles on the State’s list? Younger asks a really good question: electric vehicles have range of 200 miles, how many miles a day do the police drive? Mottner doesn’t know. Younger points out that not one single vehicle is all-electric. Mottner says the next purchase, early 2022, will have 2 electric vehicles; one for Water and one for the Executive Branch of the City (Da Mayor). More talk between Younger and Mottner. Boils down to echoes of all that was discussed before. Knuckey says hey, we can do another search and bring this to Council in Jan or Feb. Gorman says, it sounds like a good compromise. Motion carries unanimously – to postpone? To not postpone?
7. COUNCIL REPORTS
Sullivan thanks the public for weighing in tonight. Daugs repeats that REAC is two seats short, will be interviewing for them on Dec 9th during REAC meeting. Asks everybody to observe Covid protocols. Look out for your neighbors and loved ones to make sure that they have enough heat. Dennehy reminds of Inslee’s L&I ruling that all businesses must require masks and post a sign saying so – he’s seen many businesses out of compliance. Goodnow Bids farewell to Sullivan and Gorman, as he can’t attend 12/15. Simpson notes that we celebrated T’giving, now we’re in Hanukkah, moving on to Christmas. Glad that we kept everything civil tonight. Younger has nothing to say. Gorman wishes Dennehy a happy birthday. Thanks all for hanging in there, it was a long discussion but is glad it was conducted civilly.
8. ADJOURNMENT OF CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING and so it came to an end at 8:21pm.
Just adding this for reference, as among my points was the urgency Public Works feels to protect water quality: 26 May 2021 Council report excerpt: Cami explains we have to protect the watershed to protect our unfiltered water. Building a filtration plant would cost $15-$20M just to build, let alone staff and maintain (up to $1M/year). So citations go to people hiking, biking, and other recreational use. Even light use can lower water quality to levels where we’d have to build a plant.