Better Ground

Growing Shared Resources for Today’s Forests and Tomorrow’s Future

By Natalie Nelson, Snohomish Conservation District

Trees provide us with many essential benefits, including clean air and water, shelter, and erosion control, just to name a few. Ongoing management of forested lands ensures the healthiest forests and greatest benefit to our human communities. And since more than half of Washington state is forested, that’s a lot of trees that need a lot of support. Professional foresters throughout the region are doing exactly this.

In 2021, the Puget Sound Conservation Districts (PSCD) initiated the Regional Forestry Stewardship Program to help conservation districts pool resources and leverage their ability to assist residents managing forested property. Prior to 2021, many conservation districts were unable to house their own forester or forestry program. But by coming together, districts in the Puget Sound are now able to provide more services and support to more land stewards. In its first year alone, the Regional Forestry Stewardship Program surpassed its initial goals and served landowners with parcels from less than five acres to 300 acres.

Stacey Dixon is the PSCD forester providing technical assistance to residents of Snohomish County and Island County, including Whidbey and Camano Islands. Since the pilot program started, Stacey has served 119 landowners and impacted over 2300 acres of forested property. 

Each parcel is different and each landowner has different goals for their forest. Stacey works with the specific needs of landowners and their forests to devise a management plan that works for both people and trees.

One landowner Stacey worked with is Nadya. After attending a Northwest Natural Resource Group forestry workshop in Darrington, she reached out to Snohomish Conservation District to schedule a site visit and learn how to better manage her forested property. Stacey visited Nadya and her property, learned about the trees and Nadya’s hope for her land. The result: Nadya now has a Forest Management Plan, specific to her property and objectives, that gives her a roadmap to fulfill her dreams for her forest.

Nadya found great value in Stacey’s thoroughness and analysis of both her tree stands and the soil. “Working through the Forest Management Plan with Stacey Dixon was an education for me regarding the health and sustainability of the forest,” said Nadya. “The maps and soil studies of the forested area were enlightening.”

Stacey said, “Forest management plans are crucial to accessing cost share programs like the National Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. They provide a roadmap for current and future landowners to steward the natural resources of their property. They offer a vision for the forest and a step-by-step guide for how to achieve that vision. They are also a gift to the next generation who owns and works the land.”

This is excellent news for Nadya, whose property is in a trust for her next generation.

The Regional Forestry Stewardship Program supports land stewards with their goals by giving them information and options tailored to their property. With a personalized Forestry Management Plan, forest owners like Nadya have a roadmap of how to manage their property. When asked about her next step for her wooded property, Nadya said, “Follow the plan!”

Here's what others have said about the Conservation District Forestry Program:

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J22301 through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.