In April and May, volunteers from the community gathered at a 10-acre area of 65-acre Valley View Forest in Chimacum to mark trees in preparation for a selective timber harvest. Valley View Forest is the gateway to what will eventually become the 918-acre Chimacum Ridge Community Forest — a forest will be managed for ecological, community, and economic benefits according to community-driven goals.
The group learned from Preserve Manager Carrie Clendaniel the criteria used to determine which trees to keep and which to harvest. The healthiest, most robust trees were selected to continue growing in the forest. The largest trees, or those with strategic snags or branches hospitable to wildlife, were reserved and tagged as permanent wildlife habitat trees. Trees under a certain size were assessed and marked for harvesting. Volunteers were careful to select a healthy mix of tree species — maple, alder, cedar, fir, and more — and to consider spacing between trees to facilitate the strong growth of a healthy understory, including the next generation of tree seedlings.
In early summer, Jefferson Land Trust offered a tree free of charge to 16 local nonprofit, education, community, and tribal partners (most of whom participated in the initial planning and visioning for the future Chimacum Ridge Community Forest) and invited them to Valley View to personally select the right trees for their organizational needs. The Peninsula Trails Coalition accepted a tree and then purchased quite a few more. They plan to use whole logs harvested from Valley View to construct a public-use pavilion at Snow Creek Estuary Preserve, a property protected by the Land Trust that sits alongside the future route of the Olympic Discovery Trail.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe also harvested cedar bark, traditionally used to make tools, baskets, hats and regalia.
For future community forest harvests, we plan to develop a process for any Jefferson County nonprofit or tribal partner to apply to receive donated timber and/or other forest products. This process will be led by a community forest board of managers, made up of community members and Land Trust staff who will make collaborative decisions on resource allocation from the community forest.
As June approached, the selective timber harvest began in earnest. Experienced foresters as well as Land Trust stewardship staff oversaw the harvest. Our hardworking logging team (with more than a century of experience between them!) forged a strategic skid-road through the forest and got to work taking down the trees marked for harvest by our volunteers, leaving the trees marked for habitat in place. Sunlight began to stream into the forest.
After local partners claimed their trees, the remainder were sold to local and regional sawmills to contribute to our wood economy. Net proceeds from the harvest will be used to support the stewardship of Valley View forest (including the future addition of an educational pavilion and new accessible trails for recreation and education) and forest habitat enhancement.