Remember the victims of the tragic Oso landslide by improving the way the state educates residents about slope-safety risks.
THREE years ago this week, the Oso landslide killed 43 people below a hillside that previously had been identified as being at risk of collapsing.
Most of the people who bought or built homes next to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River had no idea that area had been identified in a 1999 study prepared for the Army Corps of Engineers as being at risk potentially for catastrophic failure. They didn’t know that in 2000, a report the Corps commissioned listed buyouts as a possible approach for an ecosystem restoration project.
That is a tragedy nearly as devastating as the loss of life on March 22, 2014.
Since the Oso landslide, new research has documented a history of more than 200 other landslides along the 15.5-mile stretch of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish that includes the Oso site. Although many of these landslides occurred hundreds or even thousands of years ago, people who live below those hillsides must be given the information they need to choose whether living there is a good idea.
The legacy of the Oso landslide should be clear information and adequate education of the other homeowners and residents at risk. Too little has changed since the spring of 2014.
The Stillaguamish River is not the only place where dangerous landslides have occurred in this state. Many people across the state who may be in danger of an Oso-like landslide have not been given the information they need to make educated decisions about their own safety.
The state Department of Natural Resources continues to follow the same logging rules it has followed since before Oso, without the additional safety information both loggers and homeowners need and deserve.
The DNR and the Forest Practices Board have talked about changing the rules for logging on or near potentially unstable slopes, but critics say they have not gone beyond the talk to actual change.
What are they waiting for? Another Oso?
Information in this article, originally published March 23, 2017, was corrected March 28, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considered buying out residents of Steelhead Haven. A report the Corps commissioned listed buyouts as a possible approach for an ecosystem restoration project.