With the legislature’s bipartisan modernization of the WWRP saw the introduction of a new Forestland Preservation category.
Forestland Preservation grants help improve opportunities for forest management activity and improve the long-term growth and harvest of timber. These projects help protect many different kinds of forests, including, but not limited to, large-scale industrial forests, small private landowner forests, community forests, and tribally – or publicly-owned and managed forests.
The RCO began accepting applications for the Forestland Preservation account in February. The May 2 application deadline saw four applications for grants submitted:
Whatcom County applied for a $200,000 WWRP grant with a $231,500 match from Conservation Futures to purchase the Squalicum Forest lands close to Bellingham.
From RCO’s PRISM database: Squalicum Forest is a full quarter section of rural forestry lands very close to the City of Bellingham. This forest has been managed as a working forest and the property owner hopes to continue this tradition and ensure that the parcel forever remains available as a working land. Squalicum Forest also contains a significant portion of the headwaters of Squalicum Creek that has been identified as a priority watershed with the City of Bellingham and is home to several priority species. Additionally this parcel is adjacent to Squalicum Ranch that is currently being pursued for protection as a working ranch with significant water quality and ecosystem lift potential. This property has been used for horseback riding, hiking, and camping, and the property owner wishes to continue to support this type of use. Squalicum Forest will be subject to a conservation easement that removes remaining development potential and ensures ecologically sensitive forestry practices continue for perpetuity. This request for support will be used exclusively to contribute to the purchase of a working lands conservation easement.
Kirby Forestland Preservation
The Great Peninsula Conservancy applied for a WWRP grant of $350,000 with a $350,000 match of donated land to preserve about 33 acres of intact forestland.
From RCO’s PRISM database: Great Peninsula Conservancy will permanently preserve approximately 33 acres of intact forestland land through acquisition of a conservation easement on property within close proximity to Wollochet Bay and Gig Harbor, Washington. The conservation easement will prohibit future development of the acreage, while allowing continued forest management in perpetuity. The project site encompasses a high value timber resource and intact wildlife habitat including riparian forest, wetlands and a fish bearing stream. The current landowners acquired the property in 1980 and have allowed the timber resource to mature since that time. The property is county designated forestland and is managed under the guidance of a timber management plan. The fish bearing stream protected as part of the project is Sullivan Gulch Creek, which supports cutthroat trout and coho salmon.
Little Skookum Inlet Riparian Forest
Coalition partner Forterra applied for a WWRP grant of $350,000 with a $350,000 match (including private, state, RCO ESRP, and other grants) to acquire a conservation easement on a property on Little Skookum Inlet.
From RCO’s PRISM database: Forterra proposes to acquire a conservation easement on a property on the southern shore of Little Skookum Inlet in Mason County, consisting of 816 acres of forests, wetlands, riparian habitat, and nearly two miles of Puget Sound shoreline. The goal is to permanently protect the property from conversion to non-forest uses by placing a CE to extinguish the development rights and expand the existing no-cut buffers (currently 50’-90’, which follows state Forest Practices) to 150′ on the salmon-bearing streams and 100′ on the marine shoreline, permanently protecting the property’s ecosystem and habitat benefits. Preventing development on the property eliminates the possibility of anthropogenic damages to water quality, salmon habitat, shoreline processes, and cultural resources associated with residential development. The property has been actively-managed as a working forest for over 150 years by Port Blakely Tree Farms, generating multiple rotations of timber and supplying local mills. However, the property has been zoned for rural residential development (zoned R10 and R5), and plans drawn up for its development. The placement of a CE would not only keep the property in a forest use, but also prevent increases in fecal coliform contamination and water temperature of the property’s salmon-bearing streams and nearshore habitats. These impacts are often associated with residential development, which have historically occurred within nearshore areas.
Rock Creek Forest
The Columbia Land Trust applied for a WWRP grant of $350,000 with a $1,341,500 match (from local, private, and RCO Salmon grants) to conserve around 360 acres of forestland in Clark County.
From RCO’s PRISM database: This project will conserve approximately 360 acres of forest land on the East Fork Lewis River and Rock Creek in northeastern Clark County. The project site is divided into two blocks. The northern block straddles the confluence of Rock Creek and East Fork Lewis River. The southern block straddles Rock Creek upstream from the confluence. The entirety of the project is Designated Forest Land and is actively managed for timber. It contains 174 acres of Tier 1 Forest Resource Land and 168.75 acres of Tier 2 Forest Resource Land. According to the 2016 Comprehensive Growth Management Plan for Clark County, these designations apply to “those lands which have the physical characteristics that are capable of management for the long-term production of commercially significant forest products.” Tier 1 is primarily applied to larger parcels and industrial forestry landowners. The Forest-80 base zone implements Tier 1 designation, while the Forest-20 base zone implements Tier 2 designation. However, the Tier 1 land on this project is already divided into 5-acre residential lots and Tier 2 lands are divided into 20-acre lots. Because these lots were created prior to the State of Washington Growth Management Act, GMA Forest Resource Land Designations and the County’s large-lot ordinance, they can be marketed for residential development. This project will prevent future development of the project site, ensuring that it continues to be managed as a working forest.