Valley View Harvest 2021

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.

In the top photograph, the Peninsula Trails Coalition team unloads their logs at Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum, where they will season over the next year. With its sawmill, pictured lower left, Wayland Constructive will have locally harvested wood available for the community to purchase. On the lower right, the Northwest Natural Resource Group, a regional responsible forestry nonprofit, recently led a no-cost forestry workshop at Valley View — an example of the community forest’s potential as a living classroom available to all.

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.

This selective harvest is designed to have a positive impact on forest health and growth as more light and water become available for the remaining trees. Selectively removing trees helps prevent disease and allows the remaining trees to grow larger and stronger. It also creates the conditions for a healthier understory and diversifies the habitat for wildlife. Note the dark, dense forest in the background of the final photo compared to the thinned section in the foreground, where additional sunlight can be seen pouring through.

With this pilot selective harvest, we were excited to see how our vision of a working community forest on Valley View and eventually Chimacum Ridge may come to life. With careful design, we aim to create a healthy forest that is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life. This forest will also benefit our community with local timber and other products, and with natural recreation and education opportunities.

We’d like to thank our community volunteers and local partners for their help with this pilot harvest, and look forward to working with our whole community in the years to come to realize the full vision of a new path forward in forestry.

Photo credits: Tim Lawson, John Gussman, Jeff Selby, Cody Wayland, and John Goldwood. We're grateful to the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe for allowing us to share photographs of the cedar bark harvest.