State Launches New Grant Program to Conserve Community Forests

Posted July 30, 2020 at 5:30 am by

OLYMPIA–Communities want­i­ng to con­serve forest­lands now have a state grant pro­gram to help, the Recre­ation and Con­ser­va­tion Office announced today.

Begin­ning Sep­tem­ber 1, com­mu­ni­ties can apply for grants of up to $3 mil­lion in the new­ly cre­at­ed Com­mu­ni­ty Forests Program.

The grants must be used to buy at least 5 acres of forest­land and the land must be main­tained as forest­land for­ev­er. The land must be active­ly man­aged to include tim­ber har­vest and oth­er income gen­er­at­ing activ­i­ties. Grants also may be used to restore the land or pro­vide recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties, such as trails, when com­bined with land purchases.

Forests in Wash­ing­ton serve many pur­pos­es. We use them for tim­ber for our homes and as places to hike, moun­tain bike and do a whole slew of oth­er out­door recre­ation activ­i­ties,” said Kaleen Cot­ting­ham, direc­tor of the Recre­ation and Con­ser­va­tion Office, which is admin­is­ter­ing the grant pro­gram. “In addi­tion, forests pro­vide impor­tant wildlife habi­tat and oth­er ben­e­fits such as clean air and clean water. Con­serv­ing forest­lands ensures they remain part of our her­itage for gen­er­a­tions and that Wash­ing­ton stays the Ever­green State.”

From 1978–2001, 700,000 acres of forest­land in Wash­ing­ton were con­vert­ed to sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment, rights-of-ways, and agriculture.

The loss of these forest­lands dimin­ish­es a reli­able source of for­est prod­ucts and jobs. It also threat­ens to impair impor­tant habi­tat for fish and oth­er wildlife,” Cot­ting­ham said.

More than 1,700 for­est prod­ucts-relat­ed busi­ness­es call Wash­ing­ton home, sup­port­ing 101,000 work­ers and gross busi­ness income of about $28 bil­lion a year.

The new Com­mu­ni­ty Forests Pro­gram pro­vides anoth­er tool in the tool­box for com­mu­ni­ties like mine, where tim­ber is an impor­tant part of our econ­o­my, cul­ture and his­to­ry, but com­mer­cial forestry is chal­leng­ing due to pop­u­la­tion growth and con­sol­i­da­tion in the indus­try,” said Kate Dean, Jef­fer­son Coun­ty com­mis­sion­er. “Com­mu­ni­ty for­est grants will allow for all the ben­e­fits of forestry–standing trees, envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits like improved water qual­i­ty, open space for recre­ation and revenue–while giv­ing local deci­sion-mak­ing on stew­ard­ship and har­vest. Jef­fer­son Coun­ty looks for­ward to the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ty for­est for all of the myr­i­ad ben­e­fits they bring to our tim­ber coun­ty.”

What’s unique about this pro­gram is that it’s not anoth­er park­land acqui­si­tion or pure con­ser­va­tion pro­gram,” said Jason Calla­han, direc­tor of Gov­ern­ment Rela­tions for the Wash­ing­ton For­est Pro­tec­tion Asso­ci­a­tion. “It’s a pro­gram to help main­tain the state’s base of man­aged work­ing forest­lands. Active­ly man­ag­ing forests also will help for­est health, the rur­al econ­o­my, log sup­plies for mills and oth­er aspects of the com­mu­ni­ty. These val­ues are only obtained when work­ing forests are kept work­ing.”

I am real­ly excit­ed about Washington’s new com­mu­ni­ty for­est grant oppor­tu­ni­ties,” said Ray Entz, direc­tor of Wildlife and Ter­res­tri­al Resources for the Kalispel Tribe of Indi­ans. “These oppor­tu­ni­ties cre­ate spe­cial places to engage and enrich the com­mu­ni­ties that they serve. From the fis­cal, edu­ca­tion­al, recre­ation­al and envi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tives, these com­mu­ni­ty forests are noth­ing but untapped poten­tial.”

The Recre­ation and Con­ser­va­tion Office will accept appli­ca­tions from Sept. 1‑Oct. 1. More infor­ma­tion about the Com­mu­ni­ty Forests Pro­gram is avail­able online.

Com­mu­ni­ty forests pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty for cit­i­zens to have a direct stake in how Wash­ing­ton’s vital and icon­ic work­ing forest­lands are used and man­aged,” said Nick Nor­ton, direc­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Land Trusts. “I have seen com­mu­ni­ty for­est projects in Wash­ing­ton already allow­ing local com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate jobs and rev­enue through cre­ative, cross-bound­ary for­est man­age­ment, serv­ing as edu­ca­tion­al cen­ters to cul­ti­vate the next gen­er­a­tion of nat­ur­al resource pro­fes­sion­als and civic lead­ers, and pro­vid­ing out­door hubs that con­nect tens of thou­sands of recre­ation­al­ists to the ben­e­fits of work­ing forests. This work will have a tremen­dous ben­e­fit to rur­al com­mu­ni­ties across the state now and for future gen­er­a­tions.”

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: Around Here, Government, Nature

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0