Landscape-Based Forest Stewardship Planning for Chehalis Basin Forest Landowners

Chehalis River watershed forest

Do you have questions about managing your forestland property? Do you need assistance or are you interested in developing a forest stewardship/management plan for your property? Are you interested in attending landowner educational programs and events?

The Chehalis Basin Landscape Scale Restoration Project, a US Forest Service-funded project developed and implemented by Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State University Extension, and the Grays Harbor Conservation District, aims to increase assistance to “family forests” in the Chehalis River Watershed. The Chehalis Basin-Landscape Scale Restoration Project will provide technical forestry assistance, local educational programs, and help with the development of forest stewardship plans for small forest landowners. The goals of the project are to increase the number of sustainably managed family forests using written forest management plans, educate landowners about watershed-wide resource conditions, and tie individual landowner objectives to landscape-scale resource management objectives.

Forest Stewardship
Forest Stewardship is a nationwide program providing advice and assistance to family forest owners.

A master forest stewardship plan will be used as the framework for the development of individual plans for participating landowners located within the Chehalis River Watershed. The master plan will provide information and assistance pertaining to landscape-level issues and guidance to achieve both individual and watershed-wide resource objectives. It also will help guide landowner education and encourage watershed-wide coordination and implementation of sustainable forestry practices.

What is Landscape Stewardship?

Solving issues affecting our forests often requires a joint effort across property boundaries and ownership types. Landscape stewardship involves collaboration among stakeholders in an identified area to help address landscape-level resource issues of mutual concern. A landscape stewardship approach proposes to collaboratively address landscape-scale challenges that threaten the health, productivity and sustainability of the natural resources within a given area. The Chehalis Watershed landscape stewardship effort encourages coordination of technical assistance and incentives for landowners to meet watershed-wide resource objectives.

Landscape Objectives

The Washington Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy (Forest Action Plan) has identified the Chehalis River Watershed as a high priority area because it contains the largest stock of salmonid species  and greatest total number of fish miles of stream for any given watershed in Washington state. The Forest Action Plan also identifies the upper and lower Chehalis watersheds as a high priority landscape because they contain a large portion of forestland identified as long-term working forests. These areas provide a high level of ecosystem services in regards to conserving biodiversity. They also help mitigate the negative environmental effects of increasing conversion of forestland in the area due to population growth.

Chehalis Basin landscape-level resource objectives include:

  • Conserve working forests
  • Protect forests from threats to health, productivity and sustainability
  • Enhance and restore fish and wildlife habitat
  • Improve water quality/quantity
  • Maximize wood fiber production
  • Enhance public benefits from trees and forests
  • Biodiversity and habitat conservation

Project Location

The Chehalis River Watershed is a landscape dominated by working forestland. Highly productive soils coupled with considerable annual rainfall support excellent tree growth throughout the watershed. Forest ownership consists of a mixture of state, private, tribal and federal lands.

Timber, fishing and tourism are important industries in Aberdeen and rest of Grays Harbor County.

Private forestlands consist of both industrial timberland and non-industrial private forestland (small forest landowners). Industrial timberlands tend to be devoted primarily to commercial timber production while non-industrial forestland properties tend to be managed for a variety of objectives including timber production, recreation, wildlife habitat and aesthetics. The majority of forests in this region, including those of the Chehalis River Watershed, have undergone some form of management. A series of timber harvests followed by both natural and artificial reforestation have been recorded on most, if not all, timberlands within the watershed. Current timber types consist largely of even-aged Douglas-fir plantations, scattered hardwood production, and areas of mixed hardwood and conifer species.

The Chehalis River Watershed, with the exception of the Columbia River, is the largest river watershed in Washington, covering an area of approximately 2,613 square miles or 1,672,915 acres. The Chehalis River originates in the Willapa Hills and generally flows northwest, eventually depositing into Grays Harbor Bay at Aberdeen, approximately 125 miles downstream from its headwaters. The terrain ranges from relatively flat lowlands to rolling foothills to steep mountainous bluffs within the southern Olympic Mountains. Elevation ranges from sea level to around 5,000 feet above sea level, at its highest point within the Olympic National Forest. The watershed is home to an estimated 140,000 residents in seven counties (Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Thurston, Lewis, Cowlitz and Pacific). Several major river systems occur within its boundaries including the Chehalis, Humptulips, Hoquiam, Wishkah, Wynoochee, Satsop, Black, Skookumchuck, Newaukum and Elk rivers.

Benefits for Participating Landowners

Landowners who choose to take part in the project can receive:

  • Information and assistance for landscape-level issues and guidance to achieve both individual and watershed-wide resource objectives.
  • Assistance developing individual forest stewardship plans that meet Washington State Integrated Forest Management Plan Guidelines & Template, 2017.
  • Opportunities to attend educational programs including field days, winter schools and coached planning classes.
Julie Sackett, stewardship forester, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office
Julie Sackett (left), stewardship forester, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office.

For additional information regarding the Chehalis Basin Landscape Scale Restoration Project effort and/or to schedule a site visit please contact David Houk, service forester, Grays Harbor Conservation District (360) 249-8532 or or Julie Sackett, stewardship forester, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office (360) 902-2903 or *


* If you own forestland outside the Chehalis River Watershed and are interested in developing a forest stewardship plan, attending an educational event, or are in need of forestry technical assistance, feel free to contact us.