Forests for our Future

On the Radio: Washington’s Forests In the News

Washington’s forests are critical for water, recreation, wildlife, local economies.

The Nature Conservancy is working with many partners to restore these forest to health, to better withstand the impacts of climate change and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.


Back to the Future of Our Forests

Photographed by Nathan Hadley, Northwest Photographer

We recently went to our project in Oak Creek to restore the forest to health, prior to the advent of wildfire suppression efforts. We've partnered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Yakama Nation and the U.S. Forest Service to thin brush and cut trees for timber to pay for most of the project. Some of the trees end up on creeks and rivers. They help sediment build up and restore fish habitat, also lost with wildfire suppression. This project is also a great opportunity to provide the local community with work and renewed habitat for wildlife. See photos from the day in the slideshow above!

Learn how we protect our forests.

Help us restore our forests for nature and people.

A Day in the Life of a Forester

Written by Brian Mize, Field Forester
Photographed by Hannah Letinich, Volunteer Northwest Photographer

My feet are cold and damp.  My jeans are fighting my belt with the weight of water as I follow a line of faded pink flagging through the brush.  It has been a historically dry year, and I’ve missed the sound of rain falling through trees.

It is a good day to be a forester.

I am scrambling down the hill toward Dingbat Creek, a tributary to the West Fork of the Teanaway River.  This is a small piece of TNC’s Central Cascades acquisition in Kittitas County.  The previous owner, Plum Creek, had identified this hillside of trees for harvest.  They flagged the boundaries, buffered the streams, submitted a forest practice application, and named the project “Shaft” (not in homage to a famous 70’s detective, but a reference to a large air shaft that remains onsite, which allowed coal miners to breathe in the tunnels below).

Despite all the prep work, Plum Creek did not harvest this slope before the acquisition.  That is why I’m here, soaking wet, observing the current condition of this forest, thinking about the future, and asking a simple question, “Should we intervene, or let it be?”  Halfway down the hill, I answer this question for myself when I begin replacing the faded flagging with fresh replacements.  I understand doing nothing is always an option, but I have worked in the woods long enough to see that thoughtful, pragmatic and farsighted managers can achieve Aldo Leopold’s assertion that “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.”  Washington can have healthy, resilient forests that provide clean air, water and wildlife habitat.  We can build sustainably vibrant rural economies that create jobs in the woods and mills.  There is much work to be done, and I know TNC is committed to this vision.  I’m proud to be a small part of it.


Community engagement critical to conservation

Nature Conservancy team members spend a lot of time in forests, on rivers and on ocean shores. But did you know we also spend a lot of time meeting and talking with people? Community is critical to our work. As we forge a new relationship between people and nature, and shape the future of our state, it’s vital we engage, collaborate and partner with people, as often as we focus on wildlife and get our hands dirty in wild places.

A Critical Conversation

Climate Change was the topic at Seattle City Club’s Civic Cocktail this week. State Director Mike Stevens joined Yoram Bauman, known as The Stand-up Economist, and Rod Brown, co-chair of the governor’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force, to discuss one of the most critical issues of our time. Topics ranged from what we know right now about the impact of climate change, to Governor Inslee’s carbon tax proposal. An engaged audience asked important questions creating a dialog that will inform our work, which is deeply impacted by climate change.

A Community that Cares

Meanwhile across the Cascades, we hosted the first of three open houses about our acquisition of 48,000 acres of land in the areas. Community turnout in Cle Elum was terrific and we had a great dialog about how the land is used, what people in the area value and how we can manage the land to benefit nature and the community. We deeply value the level of engagement we got, particularly as we broke into small groups. We were able to hear from and learn from everyone. We look forward to upcoming meetings in Ellensburg and Yakima

Energizing Expertise

Innovative solutions for people and nature were shared at a Floodplains by Design workshop attended by more than 160 people last week. Together they shared mutual concerns and worked towards a regional vision for Puget Sound’s rivers and floodplains. The Nature Conservancy organized the event and with partners, shared experience and expertise with the diverse attendees. These workshops are an important opportunity for us to connect directly with those who can benefit most from this model program.

Taking Flight in a Special Place

Finally, last weekend gave us several beautiful days to be part of the Snow Goose Festival in Stanwood. Our preserve at Port Susan Bay was open for bird watching. At our booth we had stimulating conversations with dozens of community members who rely on working lands and value nature. It’s always a thrill to meet people, learn about their interests and share our work with them. These community events are some of our favorite places to connect.

In ten days’ time, we were part of four very different and important conservations in very different places. This dialog helps us shape our work and allows us to make the biggest impact we can across our state. Our work is as much about nature as it is about people. Thank you for being part of the community and the conversation.

Related Blog Posts

2015 Floodplains by Design Workshop

Cle Elum Open House

Forests for Our Future