Healthy and sustainably managed forests provide better outcomes for the environment and rural communities in Washington State. Unfortunately, our forests have been managed through large-scale, industrial logging techniques that through boom and bust cycles leave behind scarred landscapes and uncertain futures for communities that have traditionally relied on timber harvest for jobs and local income. Through collaboration with conservation partners, timber companies, private lenders, and economic development stakeholders, Jefferson Land Trust is leading efforts to find a new approach with the creation of Chimacum Forest.

Project Description

  • Establishes a highly visible anchor forest in East Jefferson County designed to provide near and long-term economic, ecological, and cultural benefits of conservation forestry techniques.
  • Located on the rural edge of an area experiencing increasing growth pressure, where forestland is threatened by conversion to development as the local timber economy changes.
  • Secures a prominent 900+-acre working forest near “Chimacum Crossroads,” and transitions from industrial forest management to the more economically reliable method of a sustainably managed working forest.
  • Protects an area adjacent to productive agricultural valleys and headwater regions that boasts one of the most successful community-based salmon recovery efforts in the nation.
  • Allows a community-based project to create a working forest that provides needed environmental restoration and protection, enhances recreational use, and allows for sustainable timber harvest and management that can feed nearby businesses like the NW School of Wooden Boat Building and Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

Partners

  • Jefferson County
  • NW School of Wooden Boat Building
  • Port Townsend School of Woodworking
  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
  • Cedar Root Folk School
  • WSU Cooperative Extension Jefferson County
  • Back Country Horsemen
  • Peninsula Trails Coalition
  • Washington Environmental Council

Benefits

  • Economic benefits include potential to produce high-quality wood products and non-timber resources for the local economy; opportunity to develop new models of local milling to meet specialty needs; potential for ongoing local forestry jobs (vs those provided by periodic clearcuts managed by regional or national corporations).
  • Ecological benefits include the protection of unique and special habitats of the Ridge, including old forest, wetland and riparian areas. Management for mixed species and age class diversity will increase resiliency to fire, reduce runoff and siltation of streams during predicted heavier precipitation events, and increase retention and replenishment of ground water that will benefit endangered salmon and other species plus agricultural and residential users in the watershed, especially as precipitation patterns change.
  • Community benefits include preservation of aesthetic qualities of the viewshed; recreational and educational opportunities to engage the community in the benefits of community and conservation forestry; demonstration of forest management that adapts more quickly and effectively to changing conditions of both climate and local economy, compared with centralized corporate or agency management, where species selected for site-specific planting would fit current and projected local environmental conditions and local specialty wood needs.

Why Now

We are in the midst of a big shift in attitude regarding what it means to manage working forests, and how to do so for multiple benefits. The challenges posed by climate change are calling industrial management practices into question as communities seek ways to ensure resiliency into the future – so the time is ripe to develop and demonstrate a management model that can address those challenges, and can provide multiple benefits for big-picture community health and resilience. Jefferson Land Trust is poised to do so with the Chimacum Forest project, particularly because at the moment we have a landowner who is willing to working with us to implement a conservation forestry approach. But this is only a bridge landowner, providing a limited window of time for this opportunity, so this is a time-sensitive opportunity to implement and demonstrate conservation forestry management practices.

The time is also ripe in the context of the surrounding community, with a number of powerful pieces in place to amplify the impact of a conservation forestry approach. The community is active and engaged in creating a vision for local management of natural resources. There is interest in developing a diverse local forest economy, from a small-scale local mill to developing non-timber forest products in partnership with a number of active, engaged community stakeholders. This project makes a perfect fit to reach these community needs, making for a powerful and highly visible demonstration of the unique potential afforded by a conservation forestry management approach.

Cost

The cost of the Chimacum Forest project is estimated at $3- 4M. The project will not be stalled by permit decisions or regulatory restrictions, and it is considered to be “shovel ready.”

Contact

Sarah Spaeth – Jefferson Land Trust – sspaeth@saveland.org

Lisa Remlinger – Washington Environmental Council – lisa@wecprotects.org