Washington’s Forest Resource Assessment & Strategy
DNR and other state forestry agencies across the nation administer an array of federal programs for landowner assistance, forest conservation and management, and fire prevention and suppression. Collectively, many of these fall under the federal Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, and are sometimes called U.S. Forest Service “State and Private Forestry” programs. These programs include:
- Private Land Fuels Management & Community Protection
- Cooperative Forest Health Program
- Forest Stewardship Program
- Urban & Community Forestry Program
- State Fire Assistance Program
- Volunteer Fire Assistance Program
A provision of the 2008 Farm Bill required state forestry agencies to conduct a Statewide Forest Resource Assessment & Strategy to be completed by June 2010. The outcome of this strategy was to identify the types of work needed to address national, regional, and state forest management themes, and to designate priority forest landscapes in which work could take place over the following years.
The Farm Bill directed the state’s strategy be divided into three components:
- Statewide Assessment of Forest Resources: to provide an analysis of forest conditions, trends, threats, and opportunities in the state and the information necessary to delineate priority forest landscapes.
- Statewide Forest Resource Strategy: to provide a long-term plan for investing state, federal, and other resources to manage priority landscapes identified using the assessment, focusing where federal investment can most effectively leverage desired action and engage multiple partners.
- Annual Report on Use of Funds: to describe how State & Private Forestry funds were used to address the priorities in the assessment and strategy, including performance measures for any given fiscal year.
The Farm Bill provision specifies three nationally-significant themes that State & Private Forestry are to address. Those themes are:
- Conserve Working Forest Lands: conserving and managing working forest landscapes for multiple values and uses. The issue of working forest lands and conversion is a primary concern of DNR both as the state’s principle forestry agency and as a forest land manager. The pattern and rate of forest conversion of private lands to non-forest uses is resulting in a loss of habitat, recreation lands, and impacts to Washington’s resource-based economy. Therefore, DNR has established major initiatives to support small forest landowners to maintain their land as working forests; advance policies and incentives to prevent the loss of private working forest lands and retain associated jobs; consolidate DNR-managed working forests into strategically positioned blocks that help provide compatible management for neighboring forest lands; and permanently maintain DNR-managed working forests at greatest risk of conversion.
- Protect Forests From Harm: protect forests from threats including catastrophic fires, storms, flooding, insect or disease outbreak, and invasive species. DNR addresses both forest health restoration and wildfire hazard reduction through the development of alternative energy resources such as biomass removal from unhealthy, overstocked forests to restore forest health, particularly in Eastern Washington, where forests suffer from past fire exclusion, disease, and challenges presented by a changing climate.
- Enhance Public Benefits from Trees and Forests: including air and water quality, soil conservation, biological diversity, carbon storage, forest products, forestry-related jobs, production of renewable energy, and wildlife. Upland water quality and quantity, protection of habitat for federally listed wildlife species, and Puget Sound restoration are at the core of DNR’s responsibilities to regulate forest practices activities and manage forested state trust lands.
In Washington, core landscapes were identified in the Strategy and carry a commitment of receiving not less than 60 percent of available project funds. Core landscapes are divided into three primary program functions that drive specific actions as follows:
- Fuels Reduction and Community Protection Treatments (Core landscapes: Upper Yakima, Wenatchee, Entiat, Chelan, Okanogan, Lower Spokane, Little Spokane, Hangman, Middle Spokane)
- Forest Health Treatments (Core landscapes: Lower Spokane, Middle Lake Roosevelt, Colville, Kettle)
- Forest Stewardship Assistance (Core landscapes: Upper Chehalis, Willapa, Grays-Elochoman, Cowlitz, Lewis, Kennedy-Goldsboro)
The Washington Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy is to be revised every five years. To view a summary of the Washington Strategy click here. Strategies for all 50 states can be found at www.forestactionplans.org.