The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
This project involved the thinning of 35-50 year old timber in Bone River, Niawiakum River, Ellsworth Creek and Elk River Natural Areas. The goal was to dramatically improve the quality of habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, including the marbled murrelet, spotted owl, populations of cavity dwelling bird species, amphibians, and the resident herds of Roosevelt Elk. The project was designed to mimic natural disturbance like wind storms, insect and disease damage to create openings in unnatural densely planted stands. These openings will help foster the growth of diverse ground and shrub cover as well as multiple tree canopies. Natural disturbance creates a mosaic of different habitats from little touched areas (skips) to areas where trees are blown down in areas of 5-10 acres (gaps). The project took place in separate work areas totaling 895 acres. We brought in our region archeologist, biologist and geologist to help determine where we could thin forest and where due to geological (landslide prone), archeological (cultural resources) and biological (rare species like Marbled Murrelets) we would leave forest untouched as skips. The project also involved the planting of 6000 western red cedar, 3500 Sitka spruce trees and 3,500 sallal, salmonberry, and red elderberry shrubs. We used Washington Conservation Corps and Cedar Creek Correction Camp crews to remove the bark (girdle) from standing trees. Girdling was done using hand draw knives and chainsaws and trees were left standing as wildlife snags. No heavy equipment was used in this project and no road building was needed. Because no trees were removed from the site, the forest practice program determined that a Forest Practice Act permit was not needed. Program manager did fill out forms and had specialists out to review project so time was charged to grant under the permit section. This project cost much less than expected because we used Washington Conservation Corps and Cedar Creek Correction Crews which are much more cost effective compared to putting the project out to bid.