Saturday, November 1, 2014

Glenoma: Geology and Law

Glenoma (DNR, 2009)

Glenoma (DNR, 2009)

In writing a science oriented blog I try to tamp down my urges of opinion. Share facts and leave it at that. Some readers know that I do engage in policy issues. The above images are from landslides associated with a 2009 storm. That storm triggered a fair number of landslides - somewhere on the order of 1,400 documented slides. The particular set shown above and in Google earth 2009 images shown below are from the Glenoma area in Lewis County. These slides caused a fair bit of hardship to the property owners impacted by the slides.

Last weekend I worked on a amicus brief to submit to the State Supreme Court. I had no involvement in the case. However, the Court of Appeals ruling included a view that is unsupportable from a geologic perspective and in my view should be not stand.
I suppose there are those experts in legal matters that could educate me on these weighty legal matters and I am sure that those matters will be argued in the court. Regardless, it is very hard for me to look at the images form 2009 (I digitized nearly all of the landslide initiation sites on aerial images) and not conclude there is link to the slides and forest practices. Nuanced legal arguments aside, logging on steep slopes that are already marginally stable just from the slope angle alone has some risk. It strikes me that the risk is not being borne by those that profited from taking that risk.

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