DNR completes forest assessment and strategy
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DNR completes forest assessment and strategy 

June 23, 2009
DNR completes forest assessment and strategy
Report to federal agencies finds opportunities to improve forest management and conservation

OLYMPIA – Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today announced the completion of an assessment and strategy that will help inform investments in rural and urban forests — such as addressing forest health issues, and forest links to water quality and Puget Sound. The report is available for viewing on Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) website www.dnr.wa.gov.

DNR completed the Statewide Forest Resource Assessment & Strategy to meet federal requirements for certain assistance programs that are offered to private forest landowners and local communities. For example, DNR hopes the document can help address forest health and wildfire issues at a landscape level across the state.

“The assessment and strategy provides an important foundation for landowners and land managers in Washington as they make decisions that conserve and protect healthy, resilient forests,” said Goldmark. “DNR will draw upon this valuable information to address forest health and, in the long term, reduce risks of catastrophic wildfire.”

The report includes maps and data that show trends in forest conditions and threats to forest values. For example, areas challenged with forest diseases, landscapes most prone to catastrophic wildfire, areas where working forestlands can be conserved, and opportunities for biodiversity conservation are highlighted. Many landowners, state and federal agencies, Indian Tribes, and conservation organizations are working on these forest threats. The strategies in the report seek to best align and coordinate DNR actions through the applicable programs with investments that others are making.

Plan helps coordination between land managers
The Assessment paints a broad “state of the forests” picture that has not been developed previously. The conditions, trends and threats to Washington’s forests will be tracked over time and provide a gauge of where conservation and management actions are making a difference. The Strategy portion will help DNR and its public and private partners to achieve national forestry goals set by the U.S. Congress in a way that is most relevant to Washington’s unique forests and their challenges.

The U.S. Congress, in the Farm Bill, required that by June, 2010, each state that receives State & Private Forest Program funding assess their forest resources, delineate “priority landscapes,” and produce a strategy on the effective use of funds. All 59 states and territories needed to adhere to a set of national themes and objectives, as well as guidance developed by the U.S. Forest Service. As with other states, Washington’s assessment and strategy is unique to the state’s issues and opportunities. 

The major forestry-related issues that DNR assessed and addressed in the strategy include working forests and the threat of conversion to other uses, restoring forest health and addressing wildfire hazards, and protecting biodiversity and habitat conservation. In addition DNR addressed issues related to water quality and how forests support the restoration of Puget Sound, and the role of urban forestry in the connectivity between these areas and the working forest landscapes above.

Long-term Programs and partnerships key
Several DNR programs have long assisted private forestland owners with activities such as tree thinning, wildfire hazard reduction, forest management planning, and urban forestry, and streamside forest protection. These programs are funded through the U.S. Forest Service ‘State & Private Forestry’ budget, using DNR’s forestry expertise to work with landowners. Specifically, these include: 

  • Private Land (Wildfire) Fuels Management & Community Protection (multiple programs)
  • Cooperative Forest Health Program
  • Forest Stewardship Program
  • Urban & Community Forestry Program
  • Forest Legacy Program
  • State Fire Assistance Program
  • Volunteer Fire Assistance Program

Using the information in the Statewide Forest Resource Assessment & Strategy, DNR and federal, and local public and private partners will be able to coordinate and enhance efforts throughout top priority forest landscapes in Washington.  

DNR managing and protecting lands and public natural resources
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. These lands include 130,000 acres of Natural Resources Conservation Areas and Natural Area Preserves that protect rare and threatened species as well as high-quality examples of the native ecosystems and landscapes of Washington.

The department also provides wildfire protection for 12.7 million acres of private and state-owned forestlands; administers Forest Practices rules and surface mine reclamation on state and private lands; gives technical assistance for forestry and mining; and provides financial and grant assistance to local communities and individuals.

DNR is administered by Peter Goldmark, Washington’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.

Media Contact:  Jane Chavey, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1721 jane.chavey@dnr.wa.gov

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