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.

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

Boyd Norton, DNR Stewardship Forester
Boyd Norton, DNR Stewardship Forester for northeast Washington.

DNR’s Northwest Washington Stewardship Forester Receives Washington Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector Of The Year Award

At this year’s Washington Farm Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting, Boyd Norton, a long-time DNR employee, was awarded the Washington State Tree Farm Program’s Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector of the Year Award for 2017. The award recognizes Boyd’s decades-long service as an inspector and dedicated supporter of the Washington Tree Farm Program.

Washington’s Tree Farm program is a state affiliate of the American Tree Farm System, a national third party certification program for forest landowners who meet a strict set of internationally recognized standards for producing certified wood. The program’s Certified Tree Farmers are required to manage their lands in a sustainable manner according to an approved written forest management plan. Periodic re-inspections by tree farm inspectors like Boyd ensure continuing compliance with program standards.

Tree Farm inspectors volunteer their time and perform considerable outreach efforts and inspections to educate the public and private landowners about the benefits of sustainable forestry.

Boyd started his career at DNR in the South Puget Sound Region in the spring of 1975. By 1977 he’d been twice promoted and moved to Pacific County in what was then DNR’s Central Region. After 14 years and two more promotions, Boyd relocated to northwest Washington where he’s been ever since.

Boyd has worked in a variety of DNR programs over the years including State Trust Land Management, Forest Practices, and assisting small forest landowners both as a Small Forest Landowner Office field specialist and two positions in the Forest Stewardship Program. In all of his career experiences Boyd’s first love has been working with small forest owners. It was that dedication that led him to his current position as the DNR stewardship forester for the northern half of western Washington, including northwest Washington, central Puget Sound, and the north Olympic peninsula.

Tami Miketa, Manager, Small Forest Landowner Office (SFLO)
Tami Miketa, Manager, Small Forest Landowner Office

First known as “farm foresters” in the 1950s and 60s, then “service foresters” in the 70s and 80s, and since 1990 as “stewardship foresters, DNR employees have supported the Tree Farm Program and provided forest management advice to family forest owners for nearly 70 years. Boyd Norton’s achievement is particularly noteworthy, since he is one of only two remaining stewardship foresters in western Washington due to the current low funding for the program following loss of all state funds during the recession. and concurrently declining federal funding.

The American Tree Farm Program has its roots in southwest Washington with the certification of nation’s very first Tree Farm near Montesano in 1941. It subsequently grew into the nationwide program that it is today. More information about the program is available at

The Forest Stewardship Program is a nationwide program delivered in partnership between the USDA Forest Service and state forestry agencies.

Congratulations to Boyd for this fabulous honor!

Focus on Local Partnerships and Collaboratives

In our February newsletter, I introduced a new series of articles we will be spotlighting in our feature “Ways To Connect.” We are highlighting several local partnerships or collaborative natural resources management efforts across the state that have been formed as a framework for local citizens, interest groups, governments and other organizations collaboratively identify and solve local natural resource issues.

In this newsletter, we will be highlighting the Chehalis River Basin Land Trust. The Chehalis Basin is one of the most diverse watersheds in the state, with major tributaries draining the Willapa Hills to the west, the Cascade foothills to the east, glacial prairies to the northeast, and the Olympic Mountains to the north. It is the largest basin in Washington state outside of the Columbia Basin, and drains over 2,660 square miles. The Chehalis River Basin Land Trust holds over 4,400 acres for conservation, protection, and restoration in this important basin. Read more about this fine organization in Kylea Johnson’s article, “Chehalis River Basin Land Trust: Get to Know Us.”

By Tami Miketa, Manager, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office

Chehalis River Basin Land Trust: Get to know us

A Local Force

The Chehalis River Basin Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservation organization serving the Chehalis River Basin. The Land Trust was formed in 1992 by a group of citizens concerned about the health of waters and lands in the basin. Our mission is, “to conserve, protect, and restore ecologically significant lands within the Chehalis River Basin.”

To date we steward over 4,000 acres in the basin, an impressive feat for a Land Trust that has run on volunteer power for much of its 23-year life. Each of our parcels is walked at least once per year to monitor for issues that may harm the conservation value of the property. These issues commonly include invasive plant growth or human interference.

The Land Trust Community

Chehalis River Basin Land TrustMost of Washington state is served by a local land trust. Each land trust has a unique mission to conserve the landscapes most important to their service area. We operate under a national body, the Land Trust Alliance, which sets best practices for land trust governance.

While each land trust is unique, land trusts tend to conserve lands in one of two ways. Firstly, a land trust can own land outright, which we call “fee simple ownership.” These lands are purchased with help from funds provided by a variety of different resources.

Land trusts can also hold lands in conservation easement. Conservation easements work directly with a land owner to restrict certain uses on the land to protect conservation values. Easements are a result of a conversation with the landowner and are highly unique. The restrictions tend to include an agreement not to build on the land or damage the important habitat values. Land trusts often hold easements on working farms or forests in their service area.

In the case of an easement, the landowner continues to own all of the parcel. The easement describes both the restrictions and permitted uses, which may or may not be on the whole parcel. These documents remain connected to the title of the land in perpetuity, making them a popular option for concerned landowners. Easement donors can also receive significant tax breaks for their donations to the alliance.


Your Land, Your Land Trust

The Chehalis River Basin Land Trust is tasked with the entire basin—over 1.6 million acres. Much of this land remains in pristine condition. The Chehalis Land Trust is focused on maintaining the quality of the basin, particularly our water. Nearly all of our properties contain streams, river frontage, or valuable surge plain habitat. See our properties at


Basin Education: Partnering with SFLO

The land trust serves our community in more ways than land conservation. We also provide free nature education events, membership programs, and volunteer opportunities.

This year we are able to provide monthly free nature education events with help from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The “Learnings from the Chehalis” series focuses on bringing the community out to see the unique places and explore issues in the Chehalis Basin. A special edition of “Learnings from the Chehalis” will take place this August in partnership with the SFLO program.

Forestland Resiliency: Meeting Future Challenges

Saturday, Aug. 5,
1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
72 Tornquist Rd,
McCleary, WA

We will tour a small, locally owned forest and learn about the big issues for local forests: threat of conversion, climate change, and biodiversity loss—with a focus on what landowners should know and actions they can take today to address these issues.

A team of forestry professionals will lead this talk, including Andrea Watts, Amy Ramsey, Jeff DeBell, Josh Meek and Julie Sackett.

Mark Your Calendars! Visit to see the full list of nature education events, and to reserve your FREE tickets!


Get Involved with Your Land Trust

You don’t have to be a landowner to get involved! Join us as a member, a volunteer, or a donor. It takes a village to maintain a healthy basin…

By Kylea Johnson, Programs Staff, Chehalis River Basin Land Trust


Two DNR Programs Helping to Conserve Forestland in the Chehalis Basin

Wynoochee River
A FREP easement along the Wynoochee River, a major tributary to the Chehalis River.

Recently, the Chehalis Basin Partnership was featured in an edition of the Small Forest Landowner News. One of the partnership’s stated goals is to keep forestry on the land because of its contributions to the basin’s environment and economy. Part of the Chehalis Basin Strategy is to improve river habitat and restore river banks. There are two programs administered by the Small Forest Landowner Office that are available to forest landowners, both large and small, that can help achieve these goals. Read on to learn about the Forestry Riparian Easement Program, and the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program, and how they help not only forest landowners, but also the goals of the Chehalis Basin Partnership.


Forestry Riparian Easement Program: Designed for Small Landowners

The Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP) is available solely to small forest landowners who own at least 20 acres. The 1999 Legislature established FREP to help small forest landowners who may have seen the economic viability of their forestland reduced due increasing regulations. Small forest landowners—those who harvest less than two million board feet of timber per year—are eligible to apply to FREP. This program will reimburse landowners for 50 percent or more of the value of qualifying timber that is required to be left along fish bearing and non-fish bearing perennial streams, as well as certain wetlands. In return, the landowners grant the DNR a 50-year conservation easement on the trees in the riparian area. This program is on a first come, first served basis, and is funded based on the date of a complete application to the program.

In the Chehalis Basin, FREP has purchased 52 easements, with several more waiting for funding. These 52 easements protect of a total of 356 acres of riparian management zones (RMZ) around fish and non-fish perennial water, 196 acres of channel migration zones (CMZ), 43 acres of wetland management zones (WMZ), and 13 acres of unstable slopes adjacent to RMZs, CMZs or WMZs, for a total of over 600 acres of riparian forestland conserved. This also translates into protection for over 20 miles of streams and rivers in the basin.


Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program: Protecting Critical Habitat

A channel migration zone (CMZ) on the Satsop River
A channel migration zone (CMZ) on the Satsop River.

The Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program (RHOSP) is available to small and large forest landowners alike. This program differs in a few important ways from FREP. First, this program is specifically for protecting channel migration zones and critical habitat for State-listed threatened or endangered species. RMZs, WMZs and unstable slopes are not specifically eligible (although potentially may be included as critical habitat). A landowner is reimbursed for 100 percent of the qualifying timber value, and grants the State a perpetual easement on the trees in the area identified as eligible. Unlike FREP, this program is not first come-first served, but is ranked by a committee based on conservation benefits and landowner management options.

The easements in this program tend to be for larger dollar amounts, and the program receives less funding from the Legislature, which results in fewer easement purchases. There are two RHOSP easements within the Chehalis Basin, one within a CMZ on the Satsop River, and one within the CMZ of the Humptulips River. Together, these easements conserve an additional 57 acres of CMZ within the basin, and over two miles of additional stream length. One of these easements was granted to a large forest landowner, and one to small forest landowner.

If you own forestland, and think you might be interested in any one of these programs, please don’t hesitate to email me for more information. You may also contact your local landowner assistance or stewardship forester for more information as well.

By Matt Provencher, Conservation Easement Program Coordinator, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office,

Wanted: Your Ideas for Rural Economic Partnerships

The Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, announced last month by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, announced is looking for your suggestions to help answer this question: How can DNR use its considerable land assets and expertise with communities around the state to create new economic opportunities, especially in communities that reply on the natural resources industry.

“The land feeds us in so many ways and we need to nurture it so that it will continue to provide for us far into the future,” Franz says. “We will bring innovation and partnership to get the most value out of those public lands for our communities’ quality of life, even as we sustain these landscapes. This approach replaces the outmoded paradigm of ‘economy OR environment’ with ‘economy AND environment.’”

Franz issued a standing invitation to communities around the state to partner with DNR on potential development projects that can stimulate local economies in sustainable, clean ways. From innovative farming methods to forest restoration to recreation to clean energy, no prospective project is too small for consideration. Suggestions and inquiries for those interested in the program can be made at

We hope you will take a few minutes to offer your suggestions.

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

NOTE: The article “Ways to Connect: The Chehalis Basin Partnership and Lead Entity”   by Kirsten Harma, Watershed Coordinator, Chehalis Basin Partnership, was mistakenly attributed to another author when first posted in February 2017. Our apologies for this error.

In this edition of our quarterly newsletter, the Small Forest Landowner Office introduces a new series called “Ways To Connect.” This series will highlight several local partnerships or collaborative natural resources management efforts across the state that have formed as frameworks for local citizens, interest groups and government organizations to work collaboratively to identify and solve local natural resource issues.

The groups we will feature have diverse memberships: cities, counties, tribes, state agencies, federal agencies, and citizen stakeholders, among others. These partnerships enable local people to deal with the unique social, political and ecological problems their communities might face and find solutions ideal to their situation. Local partnerships are incredibly beneficial, not only for the health of the environment but also for the well-being of the stakeholders and the community.

Local partnerships generally share a few key assumptions:

  • Locals are better placed to conserve natural resources,
  • People will conserve a resource if benefits exceed the costs of conservation, and
  • People will conserve a resource that is linked directly to their quality of life.

When quality of life is enhanced, efforts and commitment to ensure the future well-being of the resource are also enhanced. Local partnerships also are hailed as a way to reduce conflict among stakeholders; build social capital; allow environmental, social, and economic issues to be addressed in tandem; and produce better decisions.

The natural resource challenges that face us today, from threats of forest conversion to water and air quality degradation, appear almost impossible to resolve through parties working in isolation. These partnerships may be unilateral, where people from similar backgrounds work collaboratively and cooperatively on a shared problem or opportunity, for example, a growers’ or fishers’ cooperative. They may be bilateral, where the partners come from two different backgrounds, for example, a rural land care group where partners, predominantly from a single primary industry group, work with government. Or they may be multilateral, where the partners come from several different backgrounds, as is the case with estuary, coastal and catchment management groups.

In this edition we introduce the Chehalis Basin Partnership. The Chehalis Basin Partnership was formed in 1998 to provide a framework for local citizens, interest groups and government organizations to work collaboratively to identify and solve water-related issues. Please read Kirsten Harma’s article and see how partnerships work in the Chehalis Basin and how partnerships may work in your own community.

By Tami Miketa, Manager, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office