In Your Words: How Small Forest Landowners are Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak

Earlier this month, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office Manager Tami Miketa penned a note to readers with tips on how to take care of their mental health and get through the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent fallout. In her column, she asked landowners how they are staying safe and staying sane during the pandemic. The following is a selection of their responses.

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Thanks for many good suggestions during this trying time.

My means of coping is to apply for the Forestry program in order to assure I am doing my utmost to improve the land I live on. I am applying for the deferred forestry program, as well as building a garden, which will operate as a community-supported agriculture project to include neighbors in the efforts and harvest. Community-building seems to be the appropriate response and brings much needed solace to know we are doing our best. We are strictly quarantined as I have an extremely vulnerable partner to this disease. We count our (many) blessings every day and try to do our part to build community and take care of each other.

Blessings to all … this too shall pass.

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Thank you for your suggestion for maintaining the health and wellness of ourselves, our families, and our communities. They are wise and much appreciated, but I would suggest that you missed one very obvious suggestion – get out and enjoy your forest! You can maintain social distancing, get some fresh air and exercise, enjoy the various signs of spring out in the woods – birds, plants, and wildlife – and maybe even lay out your plans for managing your tree farm!

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I appreciated your newsletter sentiments at this difficult time. You included many helpful suggestions to live each day focused on what’s truly important.

I always turn to gardening to ground myself in times of stress & when my mind is whirling with “what ifs” or “I should haves.”

Some of the wonders I witnessed this week while gardening: a hummingbird collecting dried seed fluff from my clematis for a nest, and a cascade frog, fat with eggs, I think, sunning itself on a slate flagstone.

Witnessing but a moment in the life of just two of the many creatures with which I share my garden made me feel more connected to the planet.  I also experienced a surge of joyful gratitude.

I really enjoy the DNR monthly e-newsletter — I always learn something about the natural world. It was a treat to see a slight departure in content. You hit the nail on the head and your sentiments resonated with me, and I’m sure with many other readers. Stay well in mind and body.

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WOW! Thank you for such level-headed, calm advice. I posted immediately to my Facebook friends, many of whom are in recovery programs and several of whom have expressed how stressed they are by the current situation during zoom meetings we have set up during this period. How wonderful it was of you to “step away” and focus on the important things at this time.

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In the grand scheme of things, this is the most important message you have ever written in the newsletter. Forestry will be front and center again someday, and the SFL community will go back to politicking for priorities, but people’s well-being and the kindness and serving others is more important that a few trees and some fish (forests and oceans too). I am impressed with your departure from the norm to offer some hope in this crazy time. Good for you.

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First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and compassion with everyone. I think there are many things for people to learn and adjust to throughout this process and the current events. 

I think and have shared with my wife that one of the greatest things to be gained from the stay-at-home opportunity is the reconnection with relationships. 

Most of us are a part of two family careers and generally pass through the home and are focused on the things going on at our jobs. Many people have a relationship but are not in a relationship. It can only be good to get reacquainted with those closest to us. I believe it will make all of us stronger. 

Additionally, we will all realize what we really need to survive comfortably and what we can live without.  I believe that will also make us all stronger. 

Finally, developing a sense of community will most likely be a part of the final picture of this time. People helping people and, also, people feeling comfortable asking others for help when they need it. Asking for help is sometimes viewed as a weakness instead of a strength. 

Even with all the negative side of this virus, I generally search and acknowledge the positive parts and look forward to those things as we all process our fears, stresses and concerns over the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks again, and stay safe and healthy.

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Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office — Fall 2018

Tami Miketa
Tami Miketa, manager, Small Forest Landowner Office

In this edition of our SFL News, we want to highlight a special landowner. His name is Dave New, and he is the 2018 Washington Tree Farm Program’s Tree Farmer of the Year. Dave recently told me such an interesting story about the history of his family’s property, how they came into ownership, the struggles and challenges faced, and the true successes achieved so far. His story highlights the contributions made by a number of organizations helping him be a successful forest landowner.

All of these organizations have a similar mission – to keep small forest landowners in forests.

Dave’s story is a great example of cooperation and collaboration between organizations to help achieve the New family goals, and it really highlights the reasons why our organizations exist, especially the Small Forest Landowner Office.

When Dave’s family took over the ownership of their property, it was planned for subdivision into about 60 single-family lots. Luckily, through various circumstances, the property was saved from development. Through the help of a number of organizations (including ours), the New family has learned how tree farms benefit the environment and society in general, and the types of assistance that are available to private forest landowners to help them keep their land in forests.

After hearing his story, I asked him to write it down so we can share it with you, in the hopes that you are encouraged by Dave’s experiences to reach out to organizations, like us, that are available to assist you in the management of your forestland.

New Small Forest Landowner Demographic and Road Survey

The 1999 Salmon Recovery Act required all forest roads be brought up to new forest road standards, as outlined in the 1999 Forests and Fish Report, and established in the Forest Practices Rules.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in consultation with the Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Ecology (DOE), is required to monitor the extent, effectiveness, and status of small forest landowner roads. Also, as the agency responsible for carrying out provisions of the federal Clean Water Act in Washington State, the DOE monitors water quality to determine whether activities meet the state’s water quality standards.

DNR, in consultation with the Small Forest Landowner Office Advisory Committee, is required to develop a plan for evaluating the status of small forest landowner roads. DNR, DOE, and the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA) developed an online road assessment survey in order to gain sufficient data to determine the status of forest roads on the properties of small forest landowners. Your information in this survey will help DNRs legislative request for increased funding for the Small Forest Landowner Office and will help to show that small forest landowner roads are well maintained and are not contributing significant sediment to our streams.

Please take 15 minutes to complete this confidential/non-regulatory survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/landownersurvey

Thank you for supporting the Small Forest Landowner Office! 

DNR Small Forest Landowner Office Programs

The DNR Small Forest Landowner Office was established in 1999 to promote the viability of small forest landowners in Washington state. The SFLO manages several assistance programs for landowners, including:

  • Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP)— A cost-share program that provides small landowners with 75 percent to 100 percent of the cost to remove fish barriers from their property. Enrolled landowners are not required to replace a barrier until the state determines that the barrier is a funding priority. Since 2003, the FFFPP has eliminated 401 fish passage barriers, opening up 924 miles of habitat for fish.
  • Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP)— Provides financial compensation to qualifying small landowners who are required to leave commercial timber in riparian buffers during timber harvests. Since 2001, The FREP has purchased 367 easements covering 5,868 of riparian forests. 
  • Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program (RHOSP)— Formerly known as the Riparian Open Space Program, RHOSP purchases conservation easements from landowners with forested land that is located in a channel-migration zone and is critical habitat for state-listed threatened or endangered species. Since 2001, 18 conservation easements have been purchased protecting channel migration zones and critical habitat for state threatened or endangered species.
  • Forest Stewardship and Technical Assistance— Provides services and direct one-on-one assistance to forest landowners across Washington state. DNR Stewardship & Technical Assistance Foresters and Wildlife Biologist offer no-cost, non-regulatory, on-site visits to help landowners improve forests for timber production, forest health, wildlife and fish habitat, special forest products, aesthetics, and fire safety. Advice is customized to meet the landowner’s specific objectives. They also assist small landowners with forest practices-related questions and with the state’s Forest Practices Application process.