Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office

Changes in the Small Forest Landowner Office

As the saying goes, the one thing in life that is certain is change.

Tami Miketa
Tami Miketa, manager, Small Forest Landowner Office

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 matthew.provencher@dnr.wa.gov.

Get outdoors!

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:

  1. Forestland habitat critical for state-listed threatened or endangered species (critical habitat)
  2. 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!

Douglas-fir Tussock Moth Outbreaks Return to Eastern Washington, Starting in Unexpected Places

By Glenn Kohler, DNR forest entomologist, glenn.kohler@dnr.wa.gov

The Douglas-fir tussock moth caterpillar is arguably a photogenic insect, but when populations boom every seven to 10 years, there can be an ugly side: Hungry tussock moth caterpillars feed on both new and old foliage of their preferred hosts (Douglas-fir, true firs, and spruce).

Chewed foliage dries and turns brown, giving affected trees a scorched appearance starting in early July. If most of the foliage is removed, this can result in tree mortality or top-kill in a single season, potentially killing up to 40 percent of host trees in an infested stand. The trees most vulnerable to mortality are those with the least foliage, such as young trees and those growing in dense stands.

Fortunately, tussock moth outbreaks are short-lived, due to a number of natural enemies and disease that collapse local outbreak populations after a year or two of defoliation damage. Also, mostly because the adult females are wingless and incapable of flight, the damage footprint of tussock moth outbreaks tends to be smaller and more scattered than the western spruce budworm, another notorious Eastern Washington forest pest that prefers similar hosts.

Douglas-fir tussock moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata) is in the “tussock moth” subfamily Lymantriinae, which includes the non-native and much more destructive gypsy moth. Unlike gypsy moths, the tussock moth is native to western North America and its outbreaks are a natural part of dry forest ecosystems in the West.

tussock moth tree kill
A Douglas-fir tussock moth infestation defoliated the crowns of many of the trees in this site near Ellensburg. (Photo by Glenn Kohler, DNR)

However, for a forest landowner who happens to have property in the epicenter of an outbreak, tussock moths can be very destructive to trees and quite literally irritating to humans. Those photogenic and colorful hairs on the caterpillars are covered with microscopic barbs that are like fishhooks. When these get under your skin, itching, swelling, and redness are not far behind (unless you are one of the lucky few who seem immune). This condition is known as tussockosis and should motivate anyone working or playing in a defoliated area to cover their skin and avoid handling caterpillars or cocoons.

The first visible defoliation of the current outbreak was recorded on approximately 1,900 acres in Kittitas and Chelan counties in 2018. The damage in some areas is quite severe and can easily be seen from U.S. Highway 97 over Blewett Pass between Cle Elum and Leavenworth.

This is the first observation of tussock moth defoliation in Washington since 2012 and the first in Kittitas County since aerial surveys began in 1947. Many Douglas-fir and grand fir in this area were already damaged during a decade-long budworm outbreak that just came to an end, meaning stressed host trees may be more vulnerable to tussock moth damage.

On the positive side, generalist predator and parasite populations that built up during the budworm outbreak may have an impact on the tussock moth population.

The pheromone that flightless tussock moth females use to attract males was synthesized as a lure for sticky traps and is used to monitor changes in population. This can provide an early warning to land managers when an outbreak might be expected.

tussock moth trap catch map

Every year since 1980, an interagency network of these “Early Warning System” pheromone traps has been deployed in Eastern Washington, with 250 locations trapped in 2018 (see map). Despite high trap catches and reports of caterpillars in Kittitas County, heavy defoliation in this area was unexpected because tussock moth outbreaks historically tend to recur in the same areas of Washington – most commonly in Okanogan County, Spokane County, and in the Blue Mountains south of Dayton.

Trap catches remain elevated in the current outbreak area and have increased in some areas of Okanogan County, which indicate higher likelihood of more tussock moth defoliation developing in 2019. Unfortunately, high trap catches do not always correlate with the location of future defoliation.

Ornamental blue spruce trees that are defoliated by tussock moth are known as “sentinel trees” because their damage often precedes forest defoliation by a year or two. There is no direct, predictable relationship between the location of sentinel trees and locations where forest areas will be defoliated.

tussock moth trap catch

Tussock moth populations are normally kept low by natural controls that include disease, predators, food supply, and weather. Periodically, tussock moth populations are able to escape these controls and outbreaks occur. Outbreaks typically collapse within two to four years due to a combination of build-up in natural enemies and/or starvation (see chart).

Caterpillars are highly susceptible to a nucleopolyhedrosis virus (NPV) that can rapidly spread through the population and is a frequent cause of collapse. Infected caterpillars tend to hang from branches when dead, where their virus-liquefied bodies swell and burst in the heat, spreading virus onto foliage that will be eaten by nearby caterpillars.

If they survive to adulthood and mate, female tussock moths lay masses of eggs in late summer on top of their own cocoons. Virus can get onto eggshells through the mother, nearby “exploding” caterpillars, or rain and snow washing down over winter. When caterpillars hatch in spring, their first meal is their own eggshell, which may seal their fate if it’s covered with virus.

tussock moth cocoon
A Douglas-fir tussock moth egg mass and cocoons hang off the needles of a Douglas-fir tree. (Photo by Glenn Kohler, DNR)

Early in an outbreak, egg masses can be analyzed to determine the level of virus and egg parasitism by tiny wasps. This information can be used to predict the duration and possibly predict severity of the outbreak. The U.S. Forest Service is analyzing eggs collected from state and federal land during the current outbreak.

If no actions are taken to manage or prevent tussock moth damage, the outbreak will subside in two to four years due to a build-up of natural controls. Management options are available to protect host trees valued for timber, recreation, or aesthetics.

Tussock moths may damage ponderosa pines and western larch, but is unlikely to kill them, so a higher proportion of non-hosts will lessen the overall impact. If timed before an outbreak, thinning the forest to reduce the proportion of Douglas-fir and true fir can reduce tussock moth damage.

Dense understory trees are more vulnerable to damage because they have fewer needles and tussock moth caterpillars may drop on them from taller trees. In an even-aged stand with widely spaced trees, caterpillars are less likely to land on host trees.

After an outbreak, killed trees can be salvaged as timber or left standing for wildlife. Selection of trees for removal should be done in spring following bud break because some trees that appear dead may produce new growth. It’s possible a tree with up to 95 percent defoliation can survive.

For immediate reduction of defoliation, insecticides can be sprayed on host trees soon after most caterpillars have emerged and begun feeding. If this option is considered, please consult a forest health specialist to assure the most effective timing, appropriate product, and application rates.

Both conventional and biological insecticides are effective against tussock moths. Biological insecticides affect fewer non-target organisms and include a commercially available bacterial insecticide, Foray or “Btk” (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki), and the naturally occurring virus “TM Biocontrol” (NPV), which is only available through the Forest Service.

Please contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture for current pesticide registration information. When using pesticides, always read and follow the label.

The Forest Service’s Forest Health Protection website has detailed information on tussock moth biology, management, and monitoring, which can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r6/nr/fid/dftmweb/index.shtml.

Wolves on the Landscape

By Ken Bevis, DNR Stewardship Biologist, ken.bevis@dnr.wa.gov 

We stood quietly along the plowed park road in the Lamar Valley of Northeast Yellowstone Park. Across the mountain valley, a kill lay down in the creek between high snow banks. No one knew if it was an elk or a bison, but the local wolf pack had been down foraging on the kill off and on for two days. We were waiting with about six other visitors hoping for a glimpse of these apex predators as the day slipped away.

In 1995, the National Park Service reintroduced wolves to the landscape of Yellowstone, and soon after in Idaho.

yellowstone wolf teri j pieper
A wolf looks out across Yellowstone National Park, as seen through a spotting scope. Note the wolf’s small ears and blocky head. (Photo copyright Teri J. Pieper, used with permission.)

If you have never been to Yellowstone, go. If you have, you know how spectacular the place is, particularly due to the presence of ALL of the large animals that lived there when our continent was settled. Bison and elk are commonly observed right along the roads, often within touching distance (don’t touch!), and bears make appearances during their waking months. Bighorn sheep, mule deer, and even pronghorn add more flavor to the large critter landscape.

When food exists, according to the laws of nature, something will inevitably show up to eat it. Birds eat seeds, grazers eat grass, predators eat herbivores; all according to size and natural history of the animal.

Wolves mainly prey upon larger wild grazing animals. Their natural evolution involved hunting any variety of such animals across nearly the entire Northern Hemisphere. At one time, they were one of the most widespread animals in the world, spanning Eurasia and most of North America.

Unfortunately for the wolves, their habit of eating domestic grazing animals put them in direct conflict with human activity long ago, and our efforts to control, or eradicate, wolves continue to this day. Wolves were removed from Washington by the 1930s.

A deep folklore has grown from this relationship, confounded by the domestication of wolves into our beloved companions, dogs, including our hardly wolf-like Labrador who lays on the couch as I write this. Wolves have generally been considered to be “bad” and competitors with humans for resources.

In recent years, however, a different, often-controversial paradigm has emerged. Wolves have been identified for their important ecological roles and subsequently actively restored in Yellowstone and Central Idaho. Laws and practices have changed, and in the absence of universal persecution (i.e. trapping, poisoning and indiscriminate shooting), these reintroduced animals have migrated far and wide.

What has emerged from the return of this animal to landscapes where they have not occurred in living memory is remarkable. Conflict and controversy abound, and much has been written on the topic.

Wolves evoke incredible emotion in people. There are the “lovers” and the “haters,” who vehemently express their feelings about wolves whenever possible. They can be considered either the representatives of pure nature and saviors of ecological health, or evil incarnate intent on bringing down game, livestock and traditional lifestyles, or variations on these themes. It is true that wolves will compete for game animals by way of direct predation (i.e. eating animals that may have been available for harvest by hunters), changing movement patterns of game (especially elk), and taking vulnerable livestock to the detriment of ranchers and stock growers. It is also true that they are a well-adapted, shrewd predator with a well-developed social structure and a fascinating life history. AND, they are definitely a species of wildlife requiring significant attention by state and federal agencies responsible for wildlife management.

Wolves are well-studied and their pack structures, hunting strategies and landscape movements well-understood (Among good books: “American Wolf,” 2017 by Nate Blakeslee, and “Wolfer,” by Carter Niemeyer, 2010). They can reproduce every year, bearing one to five pups or more, and move great distances every day, particularly when dispersing as juveniles. Radio-marked wolves have been found to make amazingly long journeys in quests for new, unoccupied territories. For example, one from the Yellowstone region ventured all the way to Northern California, and a dispersing juvenile from Central Washington traveled far into Canada, nearly to Jasper, Alberta.

I have often heard stories from landowners in Northeast Washington of either seeing a wolf, or tracks, or even hearing howling. I like to say, “Five kids a year, 50 miles in a day.”

They are back.

Wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare. They are shy and rarely seen, except in Yellowstone, where the open country and Park status of all of the wildlife create ideal viewing conditions. (Outside of the park, they are hunted and are generally shy and wary of people).  Are they dangerous to humans? Generally not.

“In the past 60 years, there have been two wolf-caused human fatalities in North America (Canada and Alaska).” (WDFW)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has an excellent website with write-ups covering nearly all of the questions that come up in regard to wolves. In my humble opinion, WDFW is doing an exceptional job of dealing with the management challenges, legalities, and social complications that have come with wolves becoming reestablished in Washington.

Could wolves become common in Western Washington? I doubt it, as they (and other large predators) seem to be unable to co-exist in areas with dense human populations. However, areas with large remote places and abundant large animals (possibly the Olympic Peninsula) could potentially support wolf packs. At this time, no introductions are planned for Western Washington.

How does this affect small forest landowners? Probably not much, unless you are a livestock producer in areas with active pack activity. Most of us with our small forest holdings accept the presence of the occasional long-range predator for the mystique it adds to our property, provided our dogs, chickens, goats, horses or cattle are left alone! Again, direct threats to humans are very rare.

Meanwhile, back at the Lamar Valley, dusk slipped over the cold observers standing along the road. Suddenly, a black wolf emerged from the dark forest edge. He went out into the meadow and dug around in the snow at the base of a lodgepole pine, possibly trying to catch a vole. Soon, two more wolves emerged, and they moved together through the edge of the forest towards where we knew the kill lay.

For the next half hour or so, we watched through spotting scopes as they went down to the meat, and emerge again to sit in the snow, about 400 yards away. They watched us with bright yellow eyes. I was struck by their charisma, leaving me with the distinct impression that they represent all that remains wild in the world.

Wolves in Washington is a complicated topic, worth studying and keeping abreast on the latest developments. Send me your wolf anecdotes at ken.bevis@dnr.wa.gov, and any great pictures from your trail cameras, too. I am planning a “Greatest Hits” of Trail Cams article in the future, perhaps with prizes!

yellowstone wolfpack teri j pieper
A pack of wolves treks through the snow-covered expanse of Yellowstone National Park, as seen through a spotting scope. (Photo by Teri J. Pieper, used with permission)

Helping Landowners Learn From Their Peers About Harvest Options

Northwest Natural Resource Group and Oregon State University are reaching out to forest owners for a voluntary study about timber harvesting methods to understand how they affect both financial and forest health outcomes.

The goal of this research project is to help landowners who are considering a timber harvest to learn from the experiences of others. There is limited information about the economics of commercial timber harvests that use thinning or uneven-aged management, and how those results compare with other harvest methods.

The researchers are looking to survey Oregon and Washington forest owners who harvested timber from their forest in the past five years (since 2014) and are willing to share information about the silvicultural methods and financial outcomes from these recent timber harvests. The survey asks detailed questions about the harvest techniques and equipment used, the volume of timber harvested, cost of the harvest work, and the harvest revenues.

The results of this study will be shared with forest owners through a variety of methods including articles, papers, and classes taught by NNRG, OSU, and partner organizations. Data in the study will remain confidential within the research team. Information will be aggregated so it cannot be traced to any individual ownership. Data will be collected from through June 2019.

If you are willing to share recent harvest information with NNRG and OSU, contact Lindsay Malone, one of the project researchers, at lindsay@nnrg.org. Lindsay can provide you with a copy of the survey.

Learn more about this research project at nnrg.org/thinning_study.

Lindsay Malone, Director of Programs, Northwest Natural Resource Group, lindsay@nnrg.org

Get to Know a Forester: Matt Provencher

matt provencher
Matt Provencher, the Small Forest Landowner Office technical assistance forester for Southwest Washington.

We recently sat down with Matt Provencher, a New England native whose love of white pine has followed him to Western Washington. Provencher works as the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ stewardship and technical assistance forester for Southwest Washington, assisting landowners with land management questions and guiding them through the Forest Practices Application process. He talks about why he got into forestry, the importance of forest management and his (lack of) success as a fisherman, among other topics.

Tell us a little about yourself, Matt.

I was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After college, I began my move out west with a stop in Idaho before landing in Washington. I met my wife in Washington — we were married in 2010. We’ve settled in Shelton, where we have lived in the same house for 10 years now. We have two dogs, three cats and eight (soon to be 14) chickens.

My family still lives in New Hampshire, with my parents, brothers and extended family all living within 45 minutes of the house I grew up in.

matt provencher dog

During my downtime, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two dogs. Occasionally, I throw a line in the water from my boat to attempt to catch bass. I do a lot of casting, but not a lot of catching …

How long have you been working in forestry? Why did you go into this field?

I began my career in 2004 with the U.S. Forest Service as a timber marker. I grew up in a city of over 100,000 people on a small, quarter-acre city lot. My time in the woods as a child was mostly recreating, specifically going camping with my family in the White Mountain National Forest in Northern New Hampshire.

I remember being 15 or 16, camping in the White Mountains pondering my future (as all teenagers do, right?) and thinking to myself, “I could work here.” So I started researching careers outdoors and landed on forestry.

Though I never did work in the White Mountains, I’ve had the pleasure of working in the woods in Maine, West Virginia, Idaho, and Washington.

What sort of jobs have you had? Schooling?

I began my schooling at the University of Maine in the fall of 1997. I originally began as a dual bachelor major in forestry/wildlife management. After one year, I dropped wildlife to focus on forestry. I received my bachelor’s degree in May 2002. In August of that year, I began attending West Virginia University to receive a master’s degree, which I did in May 2004.

After graduation from West Virginia, I got offered a job with the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho City, Idaho. I bought a truck (which I still have today), and drove across the country from West Virginia to Idaho in fewer than two days to make it to the job on time. I worked there from May 2004 to October 2005.

In November 2005, I began my career with DNR. I was an inmate crew supervisor from November 2005 to October 2007, and then a state lands forester from October 2007 to February 2012. In February 2012, I began as the Compliance Monitoring Field Coordinator, collecting data on compliance rates for the Forest Practices program. In July 2014, I started work as the Conservation Easement Forester for the Forestry Riparian Easement and Rivers and Habitat Open Space programs. Finally in November 2017, I started as the Stewardship and Technical Assistance Forester for Southwest Washington.

What do you emphasize when talking to small landowners?

There can be so much to emphasize.

Ultimately, I think it would be active management — being active in deciding what you want your forest to be. This doesn’t mean clear-cutting, but it means deciding what you want and actively promoting that. This could be a timber harvest, but it could also be controlling invasive species, creating wildlife habitat, or improving aesthetics.

Modern forest management has led to similar genetics among the individual trees and very often monocultures, which nature can’t sort of out as easily through the self-thinning process as it could historically. That, coupled with movement of wood from different areas of the country (or world) and forest fragmentation through development, means non-native and invasive plants and bugs are here, and probably here to stay. Our native forests can’t always win the battle against these invaders.

Humans may have helped create the problem, but we can also be part of the solution. Be active in the management of your forest!

Why do you think our work is important? 

Forests are a critical resource in our state, country and globe. They are complex and dynamic. Proper management of these resources can help society by providing the benefits that they expect, from clean air and water, to carbon storage to wood products such as lumber and paper.

Small forest landowners account for almost one-third of the forest land owned in Washington, a huge number!

I enjoy helping small forest landowners gain a better understanding of their forest, helping them identify their goals and objectives for their property, and then helping them achieve those goals. By helping landowners become better stewards of their property, we help ensure that Washington’s forest will provide benefits for society for generations to come.

What is your favorite kind of tree and why?

Western White Pine. When I was growing up in New Hampshire, all conifer trees were “pine” trees. As I learned the difference, I learned that the conifer towering over the hardwood forests of New England are eastern white pine.

When I first moved to Washington, I was working in the Belfair area and western white pine is relatively common there. (I was too far south for white pine in Idaho.) Even though it doesn’t tower over the forest like it can in the northeast, it was a reminder of where I came from.

You can contact Matt at (360) 819-7143 or (360) 902-1494 or by email at Matt.Provencher@dnr.wa.gov and he’ll be glad to help you with questions and provide guidance for your small forest lands.

Voluntary Agreements Protect Fishers, Forest Owners

Our friends with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sincerely value and appreciate partnering with landowners to conserve native species. Enrolling non-federal lands in the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) program for the fisher (Pekania pennanti) is an important contribution towards fisher recovery in Washington.

Fishers are the native weasel of low to mid-elevation forests. They are a medium-sized weasel, about the size of a house cat, a rich chocolate-dark brown in color and live in complex forest habitats full of down wood, snags and large trees. (Body length, about 36” with tail, and weight, 8-10 pounds). They are slightly larger than marten, who tend to live at higher elevations.

The program also benefits enrollees by granting them regulatory assurances in the event that the fisher becomes listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If you’re not already enrolled, it’s not too late to enter your lands into this vital program.

In September 2018, the Northern District Court for California overturned the 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to withdraw their proposed rule to list fishers under the ESA. The result is that the fisher is once again a candidate for listing. USFWS is required to re-review the proposed listing rule and publish findings by September 21, 2019. In the event that fishers in Washington become listed under the ESA, no additional measures will be required for enrollees beyond what is agreed to in a CCAA. This court ruling re-emphasizes the advantage to landowners of enrolling in the CCAA.

It is important to note that if the fisher does become listed under ESA, enrollment in the CCAA will no longer be available to landowners. Here are the compelling benefits of enrollment in the CCAA:

  • Regulatory assurances are granted to enrollees should USFWS decide to list the species under the ESA. Experience with other species shows that federal regulators may decide to list the species upon re-evaluation of existing threats, or if recovery efforts do not meet expectations. In Washington, expectations for successful fisher recovery partly hinge on the success of the CCAA program.
  • Enrollment in the CCAA provides a conservation benefit to Washington’s growing fisher population and will contribute significantly to recovering the species in our State.
  • If a CCAA participant ever decides to sell enrolled lands, potential buyers have the option to keep the land enrolled, should they choose. This option could be a selling point, especially if fishers are ESA-listed when the property goes up for sale.
  • Some landowners sign up for programs like this because of additional benefits. For instance, certain grants and cost-share programs award preference points to landowners that take part in agreements that benefit wildlife. Enrollment in a CCAA can also be used in marketing strategies, because some buyers of wood products prefer to deal with sellers that are in programs to conserve wildlife.
  • In general, the CCAA requires landowners to follow conservation measures that have minimal to no effect on the way they can use and manage their lands. Realistically, there isn’t much of a downside of being enrolled in the program.

If you have had any questions about enrolling your land into the CCAA, or are reconsidering an existing enrollment, we hope these points are helpful as you make a decision.  If you have further questions, please contact WDFW’s Gary Bell at 360-902-2412 or gary.bell@dfw.wa.gov.

Announcements, Events and Other News

Webster Forest Nursery Seedling Ordering Process Changes

Due to increased demand, DNR’s Webster Forest Nursery will no longer be taking seedling orders on a first-come, first-served basis.

Between August 1 and September 6, interested landowners can contact the nursery to place their names on a register that will be randomized and used to generate a priority list. Anyone who wants to purchase seedlings from DNR who misses that cutoff date will be put at the bottom of the register.

Full details are available on the DNR website.

2019 WFFA Annual Meeting and Field Tour

20th Anniversary of Forests & Fish: Past, Present and Future

The Olympic, South Sound and Grays Harbor Chapters of the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA) invite you to join us on the Kitsap Peninsula on May 2-4, for our 2019 Annual Meeting. The Best Western Silverdale Beach Hotel in Silverdale is the location for events on Thursday and Friday.  The Silverdale Beach Hotel has offered special room rates of $94 plus tax (available until March 30).

Twenty years after Forests and Fish is an opportune time to review where we’ve been, where we are, and where we and others think we are headed. Historical views on the State’s Forests and Fish commitments (past); updates on 20 years of legislative and regulatory efforts (present); and crystal ball predictions for the future by natural resource leaders (future) will provide multiple perspectives aimed at answering: How do family forest owners fit into the future needs and aspirations of other agencies/stakeholders? Do family forest landowners and rural Washingtonians matter? Will future generations feel the love from city folks? Will they have a greater “social license” making it cool to be a tree farmer?

When and Where

The annual meeting is scheduled for May 2 and May 3 at the Best Western Silverdale Beach Hotel, 3703 NW Bucklin Hill Road, Silverdale. The field tour is scheduled for May 4 at the Five Springs Tree Farm, 3268 SE Five Springs Lane, Olalla.

Registration

The conference registration fee is $150 per person until March 15. From March 15 until April 15, the fee is $165 per person. Registration closes April 15. Registration includes: Friday breakfast, educational programs, break refreshments, the Washington Tree Farm Program Awards Ceremony and Luncheon and the Friday night dinner banquet. The Saturday Field Tour is $25 per person, including a light breakfast and lunch buffet. The Field Tour can be purchased separately from, or in addition to, the conference registration. You can choose to attend only the annual meeting, only the Saturday Field Tour or attend all three days’ events.

For complete details about the WFFA Annual Meeting and to register, go to wafarmforestry.org.

WSU Extension Forestry Events

Forest Health Seminars

Learn what makes forests healthy or unhealthy and how to recognize when there’s a problem on your property. Topics include insects, diseases, and drought, including their environmental roles and the important interactions between them. Learn about what property owners should do (and not do) to increase tree resilience and mitigate impacts.

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

If you own wooded property, our flagship course will teach you how to assess your trees, avoid insect and disease problems, and attract wildlife. State experts will help you develop your own Forest Stewardship Plan to keep your woods on track to provide enjoyment and income for years to come.

  • Buckley – Thursday starting April 18

Webinar Opportunities

2019 Forest Owner Field Days

The annual Family Forest Field Day attracts hundreds of landowners from all around the region to learn about a variety of forestry topics in a hands-on setting, including forest health, wildlife habitat and management, thinning and pruning, chainsaw safety, noxious weed management, and many more.

  • Glenwood – Saturday, June 8 [registration coming soon]
  • McCleary – Saturday, August 24 [registration coming soon]