By Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Baker
Washington state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark refused to answer questions today about how his agency managed logging near a slope that collapsed near Oso in Snohomish County.
Reached on his cell phone about 5:40 p.m., Goldmark also declined to answer questions about what the agency was doing to review timber practices in the wake of the March 22 landslide. He eventually hung up on a Seattle Times reporter asking about the issue.
“This is not appropriate to talk on official business after hours in this manner,” Goldmark said.
Instead of responding to questions, Goldmark demanded to know who had given a reporter his cellphone number and repeatedly said that inquiries should go through his public information office.
Goldmark has not responded to interview requests through that office for several days.
The Times reported last week that a 2004 clear-cut above the landslide hill appeared to have strayed into a restricted area. The zone was protected because of concerns that removing mature trees – which suck up water from the earth – could allow more groundwater to flow into an already unstable hill. Goldmark’s agency, the Department of Natural Resources, is tasked with policing logging practices.
The Times also reported that Goldmark’s agency was relying on outdated boundaries to regulate logging in the area. If the agency had incorporated newer boundaries, even more of the 2004 clear-cut would have been in the restricted zone.