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The Forest

2021-6-8 source:ING club

¡¡¡¡The view from a lookout within the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest boasts a sweeping view of farmlands along Center Road.

¡¡¡¡The view from a lookout within the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest boasts a sweeping view of farmlands along Center Road.

¡¡¡¡Leader photo by Nick Twietmeyer

¡¡¡¡Nick Twietmeyer

¡¡¡¡ntwietmeyer@ptleader.com

¡¡¡¡Efforts by the Jefferson Land Trust to purchase and protect in-perpetuity 853 acres of forestland in Chimacum recently took a $3 million step forward using a grant through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office¡¯s Community Forests Program.

¡¡¡¡Sarah Spaeth, Jefferson Land Trust¡¯s director of conservation and strategic partnerships, said the funds are a blessing for the trust¡¯s work to finally acquire ownership of the lands, currently owned by Ecotrust Forest Management.

¡¡¡¡¡°We¡¯re very, very excited,¡± Spaeth added.

¡¡¡¡¡°There were a lot of really great applications and we were just lucky to be one of the few that received the funding ¡­ It will really boost the remaining funds available for use to acquire the ridge in 2023 and really help this last phase of the project where we get to realize it as a community forest, with all of the community connections and benefits that the ridge can provide,¡± she said.

¡¡¡¡The specifics for what that will actually look like, Spaeth noted, will be heavily influenced by public input and what residents would like to see in their community forest.

¡¡¡¡¡°We have already started to work with the community to help shape that vision,¡± she said.

¡¡¡¡¡°We¡¯re going to be conducting the next phase ¡­ that will help us engage folks around the actual forest management goals and recreational goals for the property.¡±

¡¡¡¡Spaeth added that Jefferson Land Trust has already received assistance from the National Park Service in its work to engage the community for developing a plan for the forest.

¡¡¡¡As the nonprofit moves into the next phase, the land trust will again receive some resource assistance from the National Park Service in continued outreach.

¡¡¡¡In 2018, Jefferson Land Trust acquired the Valley View Forest, which will serve as a critical link between Center Road and what will become the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest. Today, the site is a working example of how the trust can work to balance public recreational opportunities with ecological management and sustainable forest practices, officials said.

¡¡¡¡Jefferson Land Trust received approval May 11 to selectively harvest 130,000 board feet of timber across approximately 15 acres of its Valley View Forest property.

¡¡¡¡Erik Kingfisher, stewardship director at Jefferson Land Trust, said responsible selective harvesting not only benefits the environment, but it can also have positive impacts to the local economy.

¡¡¡¡¡°This is an effort to do a number of things,¡± Kingfisher said. ¡°Our prescription for this harvest is to be removing trees that help with the long-term biodiversity of the forest and the long-term structural diversity of the forest.¡±

¡¡¡¡The biggest of the trees within the Valley View Forest, Kingfisher said, will be spared while smaller, more densely-clustered trees will be cut to allow for more sunlight to penetrate through the canopy.

¡¡¡¡¡°There¡¯s going to be more light hitting the ground and new saplings are going to be able to get started,¡± Kingfisher said.

¡¡¡¡¡°Right now it¡¯s very dense in there and this is an opportunity to start a new generation of trees that can be ready for a community forest harvest several decades from now.¡±

¡¡¡¡Kingfisher said he understood the knee-jerk reaction that timber harvests create when members of the public see or hear of them, but he hopes by selectively harvesting timber on the property more people can begin to see the efforts for their benefits.

¡¡¡¡¡°When talking to folks about this, we find that part of our objective in this kind of work is to help people recognize the value of having productive timberlands around us, timberlands that are producing forest products, producing lumber, producing timber,¡± he said.

¡¡¡¡¡°When we hear from folks that are upset about harvesting trees at all, I respect that, I get where they¡¯re coming from [but] we have these multiple objectives that we¡¯re trying to meet here.¡±

¡¡¡¡In addition to creating opportunities for partnerships with local tribes, businesses and nonprofits ¡ª who could potentially use or purchase these products ¡ª Jefferson Land Trust¡¯s selective timber harvests can create revenue that will be used to continue the stewardship of the group¡¯s lands in perpetuity.

¡¡¡¡¡°I think one of the most important things for people to try and understand is the kind of conservation work we¡¯re doing is permanent,¡± Kingfisher said.

¡¡¡¡¡°We¡¯re trying to establish permanence within the mosaic of conservation lands that we¡¯ve helped the community achieve over the years.¡±

¡¡¡¡For more information on Jefferson Land Trust¡¯s work to acquire the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest or the Valley View Forest, visit saveland.org.

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