Working forests central role as environmental stewards

We are stewards of the future

Being a good neighbor:

Every farmer, whether their crop is potatoes, apples or timber, knows that the health of their land is a large component of the quality of their produce. They also learn that the act of being a good neighbor bears its own form of fruit, and private forest landowners have taken that lesson to heart. The neighborhood a private forest touches is on a scale you might not have considered.

A forest in the Cascade foothills might be the “neighbor” of a Central Puget Sound Native American tribe a hundred miles away simply because of a stream connecting their lands. Fish run in that stream, fish that need cool, clean water and a clear passage between spawning waters and larger bodies of water to thrive.

When men and women are working in our forests, the acts required to be considered a good neighbor can get done.

Working overtime to preserve Washington’s cool, clean water

Fish, especially salmon, require cool, clean water. Cool, clean water begins with maintaining trees and vegetation along streams to provide critical shade where fish live.

During timber harvesting on private forestland, buffers of trees and vegetation next to streams are protected as they play a critical role in the lives of Washington’s wildlife and native fish, especially salmon and trout.

As a result of landmark legislation that private forest landowners helped to create, those buffers are being widened, improved and maintained on more than 60,000 miles of streams on 9.3 million acres of Washington’s state and private forestland.

The results of buffering are worth the work: cooler streams necessary for spawning salmon, more stable soil and sediment-free water, and allowing naturally fallen debris to form the create pools where young salmon rest and feed. Explore more stewardship results here.

Whole land management is part of our mission

As scientific research expands our understanding of ecosystems, the special role of private forest landowners in supporting fish and wildlife becomes more important.

Habitat protection is more than just safeguarding the shelter or space that an animal requires to live. It’s about understanding the function and patterns of the ecosystems in which Washington’s fish and wildlife thrive.

Since 2001, private forest landowners have removed more than 7,900 barriers to fish passage, restoring more than 5,200 miles of historic fish habitat.

This success has been achieved through significant investments by the state and large private landowners of more than $314 million—of which private forest landowners have contributed $213 million for road improvements through 2017.

Diversity of forest ownership makes diversity of resource management possible

Washington’s forests are an integral part of the state’s character, covering one-half of its land area, most of those tree-covered expanses existing west of the Cascade Mountain Range. Today, close to two-thirds of that forestland is managed by state, federal and tribal governments; one-third is privately owned. Because of this diversity of ownership, our forests are managed in equally diverse ways that fulfill economic, social, and environmental needs.

Privately owned forests are supplying close to 70% of the wood harvested in Washington each year, making us the 2nd largest lumber producer in the U.S.

It is because of the economic health of the forest industry—Washington’s 3rd largest manufacturing sector—that private forest landowners have the means and incentive to do a host of other environmental work on the territory they manage.