Joanne Lennox v. DNR, Northwest Aggregates and Longview Timber Corp.
Appeal of approval of forest practice application issued to Northwest Aggregates and Longview Timber
Joanne Lennox (Lennox) filed an appeal with the Pollution Control Hearings Board (Board) challenging the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approval of a Forest Practices Application issued to Northwest Aggregates (NWA) and Longview Timber Corporation (Longview) which permitted replacement of two damaged culverts that allow water to flow under Everett Lake Road in Skagit County. The only issue in the case was whether DNR can grant a forest practice application where no road maintenance and abandonment plan (RMAP) has been filed as required by WAC 222-24-051; where the landowner is not required to conduct an RMAP because it is not a large forest landowner; but where a large forest landowner maintains an easement? DNR moved for summary judgment, and the Applicants on the permit, NWA and Longview, joined its motion. While the case was technically moot at the time of the summary judgment motion, the Board concluded that the appeal raised questions of continuing and substantial public interest, and therefore decided to issue a decision on the merits of the controversy.
The core of the dispute between the parties was whether a large forest landowner that used the Everett Lake Road (Longview) was required to prepare an RMAP, when the underlying small landowner was not required to do so. The Board concluded that the forest practices rules did not require that an RMAP be submitted in this situation. Because the application at issue did not involve timber harvest or salvage, no RMAP was required of NWA. Longview, as an easement holder, did not meet the definition of forest landowner. Even if there were a large landowner that owned the land underlying this approved forest practices application, an RMAP would still not have been required because large forest landowners submittals of RMAPs is not triggered by the submittal of a forest practices application. For these reasons, the Board granted summary judgment to the respondents, and the appeal was dismissed.