By Pat Rasmussen
Tumwater just issued a new State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination: MDNS (Mitigated Decision of Non-significance) approving the Site Plan for Puget Western at 2311 93rd Avenue SW, called Puget Western East Distribution Center. Puget Western would build a warehouse 65 acres in size, 50 feet tall, with 584 parking stalls for cars plus 234 truck/trailer stalls covering almost the entire lot. 2,547 trees, some over 100 years old, many over 24” DBH, would be cut down for this warehouse. These trees store 3,050 tons of carbon and sequester 102 tons per year.
In the MDNS SEPA decision there is no mention of climate change. No mention of the value of existing trees to store and sequester carbon. No mention of the carbon footprint of a new building 65 acres in size, 50 feet tall, plus the impervious surface of parking stalls, let alone the fact that it would erase a functioning ecosystem of 2,547 trees and Olympia Pocket Gopher habitat that is prairie. Both are carbon sinks actively sequestering carbon.
Yet, City staff signed off on this. City staff approved the Site Plan SEPA checklist, without mentioning that Puget Western does not have an approved HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan) from US Fish and Wildlife Service that can take 18 months or longer to get. There is no guarantee that it will be approved. It has not gone through the required National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process of public scrutiny, public comment or the certain legal challenges.
There are endangered Olympia Pocket Gophers on both sites that are supposed to be protected under the endangered species Act. On the Puget Western East Site, building the warehouse there will kill the endangered gophers, so Puget Western developed a plan for its Puget Western West property across I-5 on 93rd as a Conservation Site to “mitigate” for the lost gophers at Puget Western East.
Recently Edible Gardens, a non-profit, appealed the PW West project that would cut down 264 trees on 10 acres of their 70 acre parcel to create gopher mitigation so they can kill gophers on their PW East warehouse distribution center site. The PW East site would be fully developed which means the 40.5 acres of trees would be cut down and replaced with a gigantic warehouse.
These linked projects would contradict Tumwater’s commitment to the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan being finalized this fall, as well as their new Tumwater Urban Forestry Management Plan being finalized this fall.
The Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan calls for existing trees to be preserved for the carbon they store and sequester. Plus, the County jurisdictions must plant 38,000 more trees countywide if Thurston County is to achieve their climate impact reduction goals.
Puget Western West:
10 acres, 264 trees storing 3,050 tons of carbon and sequestering 102 tons yearly
Puget Western East:
40.5 acres (67.5), 2,547 trees storing 12,253 tons of carbon and sequestering 412 tons yearly
Take Action Today!
Comments due by Oct 20th to:
Ask them to:
- Withdraw the Puget Western MDNS for the Site Plan.
- Acknowledge the climate emergency and the importance of retaining existing trees.
- Acknowledge the climate impacts of the PW East project that would remove 2,547 trees that now store 12,353 tons of carbon and sequester 412 tons yearly, violating the intent of the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan being finalized this fall.
- Acknowledge that the loss of 2,547 trees violates the intent of the Tumwater Urban Forestry
- Management Plan being finalized this fall.
- Acknowledge that the cumulative impacts of the 264 trees to be cut down at PW West plus the 2,547 trees to be cut down at PW East were not considered.
- Abandon the plans for a 65 acre warehouse at PW East. We are in a climate emergency. We need actions that reduce negative impacts to the climate, not actions that increase the climate emergency.