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News / Clark County News

Increase in vandalism, Illegal dumping and theft reported in Yacolt Burn

Repair estimates range around $150K, official says

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 24, 2024, 6:08am
3 Photos
Vandalism or unlawful dumping can be reported to Washington's Forest Watch program by calling 855-883-8368 or emailing forestwatch@dnr.wa.gov.
Vandalism or unlawful dumping can be reported to Washington's Forest Watch program by calling 855-883-8368 or emailing forestwatch@dnr.wa.gov. (Photo contributed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources) Photo Gallery

The Yacolt Burn State Forest has seen a significant uptick in vandalism in recent months, costing the state thousands in damage that would otherwise fund public schools and services.

Logging workers reported in early January their equipment was shot multiple times within the Larch Block toward the western side of the Yacolt Burn State Forest. The equipment’s owner and operator said a log loader, tether, swing boom skidder and feller buncher were vandalized. Two of the machines were left inoperable due to bullets destroying integral parts of their systems, including hydraulics and electronics.

Repair estimates range around $150,000, said Courtney James, Washington Department of Natural Resources communications manager. The vandals have not been identified.

The Yacolt Burn State Forest’s 90,000 acres are managed by the state Department of Natural Resources as a working forest. The monetary blow ultimately affects Washington’s trust land funding, a slice of timber revenue directed to schools and counties. Any amount of loss is “a pretty hard hit” to supporting these services, James said.

Despite varying degrees of vandalism throughout the region, forest managers see more of this behavior in the Larch landscape, she said. Similar damage occurred here during the summer, costing the agency $50,000 in repairs. Illegal dumping and theft also continue to be a persistent trend.

Officials estimate that statewide vandalism costs more than $10.1 million annually.

Anyone with information regarding illegal dumping or other acts of vandalism can report it to the state’s Forest Watch program by calling 855-883-8368 or emailing forestwatch@dnr.wa.gov.

“We’re hoping to get the word out that this is happening on our public lands and to highlight the importance of leaving no trace and respectfully using our state lands,” James said.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff writer