“Blog Action Day” Focuses Attention on Global Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day. More than 15,000 blogs representing more than 12 million readers worldwide writing about one thing: the environment.

Over the most recent few years, we’ve learned about the increasing signs – in some instances, much faster than many scientists had originally imagined – of an emerging climate crisis. While our public leadership has remained largely intransigent in their thinking, individuals and even corporations have been taking steps to remedy, and even profit from remedies, to global climate change.

What can we, ordinary residents, homeowners and voters do about climate change? The problem sometimes seems so big, it’s hard to imagine we can make a difference.

But we can make a difference.

First, think about the environment. Think about how your actions affect the environment.

If you own or rent a residence, arrange to purchase Green Power, from your electrical utility. If you get your electricity from Puget Sound Energy, sign up for their Green Power program. It’s easy, not too expensive, and you’ll be supporting the efforts of one of the country’s foremost developers of renewable electrical resources.

Encourage local businesses to sign up for Green Power, too. Most business do not, but they could. They need to know that you want them to use Green Power.

If you drive a car, purchase carbon offsets. A carbon offset is an investment which supports the development of renewable energy resources roughly equivalent to the carbon output of your vehicle. Carbon offsets are also available for airline travel. Carbon offsets represent an investment in building a reduced-carbon economy.

If you shop for anything, use reusable bags. The question is no longer, “Paper or plastic?” Bring your own bag and use it over and over. As we have written on this blog before, “broken, degraded plastic pieces outweigh surface zooplankton in the central North Pacific by a factor of 6-1. That means six pounds of plastic for every single pound of zooplankton.” Which means, when birds and sea animals or looking for food — more often, they are finding plastic.

Recycle. Most of our communities have good curbside recycling programs in place. Use them; they’re very easy.

Compost. If this and recycling gets you to a smaller-sized garbage can, that’s great. Even if it doesn’t, though, it’s easy to do and an important component to reducing the quantity of material that goes into our community’s landfills.

Reuse. Join the local Freecycle group or find a similar group, to help find new homes for useful stuff that you would otherwise throw away. In addition to Freecycle, FreeSharing and Sharing is Giving are clearinghouses for these kinds of local reuse groups.

Buy organic. Even better, buy local organic. Setting aside debates regarding whether organic is more healthful for you to eat, there’s the issues regarding the commercial production of food. Organic is generally a much more friendly method of food production. With locally-produced organic, you can be assured your organic purchases weren’t shipped from great distances. Ask your local grocer to not only label the organic food she sells, but label it by its source.

Vote. Make those who would be your elected representatives tell you what they will be doing to address global climate change. Understand the effect that your local government, largely through its land use policies, has on global climate change. Help convert your concern about the environment into policy by making your elected representatives understand the importance of the issue of global climate change. The policies we establish, now and in the near future, could result in either new economic opportunities or warfare over scarce and changing resources.

Talk. Ask others what they are doing, to combat global warming. Talk to your elected representatives about what they plan to do.

Again, just think about the environment. Think about how your actions affect the environment.


Now is Time to Tell the Planning Commission What Kind of County We Want

The organization Futurewise asks, “What kind of County does Thurston want to be?”

That’s the million dollar question that the Planning Commission is asking this Wednesday, October 17th at 7:15pm when it holds a public hearing to review the sizing of its urban growth areas (UGA).

Sure, there are thousands of answers, but when it comes to the question of how the county wants to grow, we really only have two choices: build up or build out.

Building up means we’re focusing growth in compact UGAs so that our natural spaces like the Puget Sound and rural areas are protected from sprawling development. Building out means it’s only a matter of time until those areas are paved over.

Please click here to urge the Planning Commission to choose to build up, it’s better for the Sound, our farms, and a practical way to reduce our global warming emissions.

“Global warming?” you ask? Yes, our county’s growth management policies are one of the most important ways government can address issues of global warming.


As you may know, Thurston County is in the process of fixing a variety of aspects of its 2004 Comprehensive Plan because of a successful Futurewise appeal. Now as part of that compliance process, the County has to re-examine it’s UGA, which were determined to be too big and sprawling.

So here’s where the million dollar question comes in.

To fix its UGA sizing, Thurston County can choose to raise its population target (build out) or it can change the way it grows (build up). Unfortunately, it looks like they’re doing the former; the County issued an administrative ruling saying the UGAs are right sized now because they increased the 20 year population target by adding 12,000 people.

12,000 extra people! That’s a sizeable increase for a county of 150,000 – it’s likely we’ll need road improvements, additional classrooms. Unfortunately the County has not released a new capital facilities plan that shows us how we’ll pay for the extra infrastructure needed to accommodate our new neighbors.

Having large UGAs with low densities means that we’ll have more pavement, more runoff to Puget Sound, fewer farms, forests and all of the other things that make Thurston such a great place to live. What’s worse, choosing to maintain unnecessarily large urban areas locks us in at a way of life that oozes greenhouse gas emissions as we’re forced to drive longer distances from our house to work, school, stores, and other daily needs.

It’s time to start changing the way we grow in Thurston County – if we’re serious about protecting our quality of life – now and for the future – we need to start building up.

Please click here to email the Planning Commission and ask them to reconsider this important question.

Planning Commission Hearing Wednesday, October 17 7:15 p.m. Board of County Commissioners Chambers, Room 280 Thurston County Courthouse 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW Olympia Washington
Click here for a map

S & J’s “Happy Tree” Tree Farm Specializes in Low Impact Log Moving

We are Sue and John Yoachim and are recently retired. We have lived on five acres on Young Rd. since 1992 and were able to acquire the adjoining fifteen acres of forest in 2002. We call our 20 acre family forest, S&J’s Happy Tree Tree Farm; specializing in low-impact off road log moving. We took the Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Forest Classes in 2002 (from DNR’s-Small Forest Landowner’s Office). Through this set of classes and our involvement with Washington Farm Forestry Association we learned of several opportunities available to small forest land owners. These include the county’s Open-Space Timber Tax Program, WSU Extension services and even becoming certified through Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-C008225).

After attending several Forest Field days, we came across the solution to the problem of how to harvest without tearing up the land or using large equipment. Mark from Oregon invented and built several Arch devices to carry logs in a low impact way. The arches are currently manufactured on the East coast by Log Rite. We have three arches, the Forwarding Arch, Mark-7, and Jr., and quite a bit of experience using them; both on some customer jobs as well as to accomplish the moving (and stacking) of 54 logs on our landing for our first harvested truck load.

We use our ATV (in low) to move logs as long as 41′ 4″ or as big as 24″ diameter with the forwarding Arch upfront, and the Mark-7 or Jr Archie as the trailer wheels. The amount of impact on the land and trees is exceptionally low.

Some natural slope issues can present problems; but we have come to see this as an opportunity to use our wenches; we have two kinds, a capstan gasoline and a Honda electric wench. Between the gas powered continuous rope wench and the electric cable wench (with portable battery), we has been able to retrieve logs from every situation.

Even John was a doubter as to the practical limits of this equipment to safely move logs; but now he is a true believer and we feel comfortable making our services and expertise with this equipment available to the community. We can move a log from one part of your land to another. Our equipment also does a good job of helping to safely bring down small to medium leaners.

What we do not do, is cut down difficult trees, or transport logs to the mill. But after a wind storm we can haul what mother nature caused to fall. We can move large pieces to where others can get at it or where it can be chopped up later. We try to have safety as our first priority. We have gathered a lot of tools to help us; PV’s, chains, nose cone, and a trailer to haul it all around in.

We are happy to join the small business community in the Griffin area.

Washington Farm Forestry Association – South Sound Chapter contact is Ken Miller at (360) 705-1888. The Chapter meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

DNR Small Forest Landowner Office – Stewardship Forester contact is Mike Nystrom at (360) 825-1631.

S & J’s “Happy Tree” Tree Farm
Forest Products
Low Impact Off-Road Log Moving
(360) 866-9533