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State Reviews Logging Decisions Made Before Oso Slide

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Ted S. Warren
/
AP Photo
The devastating mudslide that killed 43 people last March in the community of Oso, Wash., is shown Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

A state review of logging near the deadly March landslide in Oso has found that a timber company logged one acre more than was allowed under a 2004 permit, but the report was inconclusive on whether logging strayed into a more restrictive area.

The state Department of Natural Resources released its review on Tuesday, nine months after the deadliest landslide in U.S. history killed 43 people and devastated a community about 60 miles northeast of Seattle.

In the aftermath of the disaster, questions were raised about logging in a 7-acre area at the top of the slope nearly a decade earlier.

The state review did not look into the cause of the March 22 landslide. It focused instead on regulatory requirements and decisions to grant applications for logging within a mile of the landslide over the past decade.

State Forester Aaron Everett, who presided over the report, said he wishes the team had been able to find more clarity in the record.

“We went back and evaluated where the boundaries of the harvest were marked on the ground, and were not able to conclude that the boundary might have been marked in the wrong place or that they exceeded the flagged boundary. Since it was 10 years past the time that the harvest took place, it’s not possible to reconstruct that after the fact," Everett said.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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