Changes in the Small Forest Landowner Office
As the saying goes, the one thing in life that is certain is change.
That is true, even for the staff in the Small Forest Landowner Office. As of April 30, our beloved Northwest Washington Forest Stewardship and Technical Assistance Forester, Boyd Norton, will be hanging up his increment borer for good. Yes, after 43 distinguished years, Boyd is retiring from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
I can’t say enough about the huge service that Boyd has given to so many landowners, providing them with his breadth of forestry expertise to manage their forest land in order to meet their personal objectives. I am always receiving emails and phone calls from landowners regarding the outstanding customer service Boyd provides, and I thank him for the beneficial impact he has had on the Forest Stewardship Program. Although we in the Small Forest Landowner Office will miss him greatly, we wish him the very best in his retirement, because he so deserves it!
Starting May 1, Matt Provencher will cover Stewardship and Technical Assistance services across Western Washington. He can be reached at 360-902-1494, 360-819-7143 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first day of spring is here and the days are getting longer and warmer, and hopefully we can soon finally put our heavy coats and gloves in the back of the closet.
I found some inspirational tidbits online that I enjoyed and wanted to share with you. I hope this gets you thinking about the joys of spring.
Warmer temperatures mean you can spend more time outside without freezing your feet off, which is great for mental health. Across the seasons, research has found that taking walks in nature slows your heart rate and makes you more relaxed, but some research indicates that there is something special about spring’s effect on your brain. A 2005 study from the University of Michigan linked spending 30 minutes or more outside in warm, sunny spring weather to higher mood and better memory.
That same University of Michigan study found that spending time outside in the sunny spring weather isn’t just a mood booster, it actually can change the way people think. The researchers found that being outdoors broadened participants’ minds, leaving them more open to new information and creative thoughts.
While it’s important to keep moving no matter what the weather, research shows that working out can be more beneficial if you do it outside. A 2011 study found that, compared with an indoor workout, exercising outdoors in nature increased energy levels, made people feel revitalized, and decreased tension, among other positive effects. People who worked out in the fresh air also tended to say they enjoyed the experience more and would be likely to repeat it, suggesting that using nature as your gym might help you stick with your exercise regimen. While those benefits probably extend to winter, too, it’s a whole lot easier to stomach the idea of a run once the weather warms up.
No wonder why the majority of small forest landowners are happy and healthy!
Update on the Small Forest Landowner Office Programs
We are coming to the end of our program funding biennium so I want to give you an idea of the huge accomplishments the Small Forest Landowner Office programs have attained to date.
Family Forest Fish Passage Program
The Family Forest Fish Passage program (FFFPP) helps landowners replace culverts and other stream crossing structures that prevent trout, salmon and other fish from reaching upstream habitat. Road culverts and other structures that are aging, too small, or improperly installed can block fish from reaching their spawning grounds, and young rearing salmon from reaching the ocean. The program funds the replacement of eligible barriers with new structures.
Who is eligible?
- A private, or small forest landowner: You harvest less than 2 million board feet of timber each year from lands you own in Washington
- The culvert is on forestland and associated with a road: The land is capable of supporting a merchantable stand of timber and is not being used for anything incompatible with growing timber.
- The structure is on a fish-bearing stream: Any stream wider than 2 feet in western Washington (3 feet in eastern Washington) with a gradient less than 20 percent is considered potential fish habitat.
To date, the FFFPP has eliminated 397 fish passage barriers opening 934 miles of habitat. Check out the 2018 Family Forest Fish Passage Program Implementation Report at dnr.wa.gov/publications/ffpp_report_2018.pdf
Forestry Riparian Easement Program
The Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP) is a voluntary program that reimburses landowners for the value of the trees they are required to leave to protect fish habitat. The program provides compensation for at least 50 percent of the timber value and applies to trees adjacent to streams, wetlands, seeps, or unstable slopes.
You may qualify if you are an eligible small forest landowner and:
- You own either a parcel larger than 20 contiguous acres or more than 80 forested acres in Washington state
- You harvest less than 2 million board feet of timber on average, per year
- Your timber harvest would be next to a stream, river, wetland, lake, or pond
- Your harvest does not convert the qualifying land to a use incompatible with growing timber
To date, the Forestry Riparian Easement Program has purchased 366 conservation easements covering a total of 5,868 acres.
Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program
The Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program is available to eligible Washington state landowners who would like to sell a permanent forestland conservation easement to the state.
Two types of land are eligible for the program:
- Forestland habitat critical for state-listed threatened or endangered species (critical habitat)
- A specific type of river habitat called unconfined channel migration zones (CMZ), which are islands of timber within a river channel that is actively shifting
To date, the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program has protected 1,117 acres of important habitat through 19 conservation easements.
Forest Stewardship and Technical Assistance Program
The Forest Stewardship and Technical Assistance Program can help forest landowners assess resource conditions and forest health, identify potential problems and opportunities, and discover recommended management practices to help them achieve their management objectives. The program can help landowners develop and implement a Forest Stewardship Plan to guide future management and help them qualify for financial assistance, current use taxation, recognition, and certification programs.
This program also assists small forest landowners across Washington state with questions related to the state’s Forest Practices rules and the Forest Practices Application/Notification (FPA/N). The program can provide understanding on both the Forest Practices rules and the process in general.
The Small Forest Landowner Office currently staffs three stewardship and technical assistance foresters (one in Northwest Washington, one in Southwest Washington and one in Eastern Washington), as well as one statewide fish and wildlife biologist. Collectively, these foresters and biologist provide assistance to more than 1,000 landowners across the state each year!