The Nisqually River watershed is home to some of the best timber-growing land in the country. Over 100,000 acres – or nearly 25 percent of the watershed’s land mass – are in privately held commercial timberlands that enjoy excellent growing conditions, extremely low tax rates, and direct access to Asian ports. It’s small wonder that investors from across the country and around the world are buying up Nisqually forests.
What’s surprising is that none of these investors include the community of which these forests are a natural part.
It’s time to change the game by joining the game.
It’s time to create a Nisqually Community Forest.
What is a “community forest”?
Broadly, it’s an economically self-sustaining forest – a “working” forest – owned and managed by a local community to provide a suite of benefits, such as forestry, tourism, and recreation jobs and environmental benefits such as clean water and protected wildlife habitat. Put another way, it’s a non-regulatory, market-based approach to furthering watershed ownership of watershed resources.
In 2011, supported by a planning grant from the National Park Service, an ad hoc group of Nisqually watershed stakeholders began a series of conversations about what a Nisqually Community Forest might look like: How would it be owned? Managed? Financed? How big would it be? Where precisely would it be located?
For example, could we build a forest that had as one of its primary management objectives the creation of local family-wage jobs? What if our objective wasn’t to generate the most board-feet of timber at the lowest cost, but to generate board feet of timber in a way that put the most people to work? Could that model succeed?
What if one of the products we managed our forest for was threatened Chinook salmon? What if our timber-harvest practices weren’t driven solely by state regulation but also by whether we actually had more salmon in our rivers, and more fish to catch, and eat, and sell, and for our kids to watch as they grew up?
What if one of the benefits we managed our forest for was recreation? What if our logging roads doubled as mountain-biking and cross-country-ski trails, so that our forest helped the community stay healthy and also supported the local tourism economy – the local lodges, restaurants, and outdoor stores run by our neighbors?
What if, say, the “profit” our forest had to generate wasn’t the revenue we had to return to far-flung investors every year but the clean water, clean air, jobs, scenic vistas and recreational opportunities that our forest provided for our local community? Would that give us an economic advantage?
Welcome to the Nisqually Community Forest Project. We envision this website as a gathering place for the ideas being generated through our community conversations and for online discussion of those ideas. Please feel welcome to join the discussion. Help us change the game.
Bryan Bowden, Mount Rainier National Park
Justin Hall, Nisqually River Foundation
Joe Kane, Nisqually Land Trust|
Kirk Hanson, Northwest Natural Resources Group
Nick Bond, Town of Eatonville
Paul & Deborah Crosetto, Nisqually Citizens Advisory Committee
Chris Eades, Hancock Timber Resources
Greg Ettl, UW Pack Forest
Pam Painter, Mount Rainier Visitor Association
Owen Fairbank, Jefferson Land Trust
Nicole Hill, Nisqually Land Trust
Diane Marcus-Jones, Pierce County
Ryan Mello, Pierce Conservation District
Steve Pruitt, private forest landowner
Judith Scavone, Mount Tahoma Trails Association
Sarah Scott, Upper Nisqually Community Forum
Jean Shaffer, forestry consultant
Evan Smith, the Conservation Fund
Paula Swedeen, environmental-economics consultant
Jack Thorne, U.S. Forest Service
George Walter, Nisqually Indian Tribe
Ann Welz, Trust for Public Land