FOREST HEALTH PILOT
The Legislature recently amended the state’s existing law governing forest health (RCW 76.06). The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was designated to lead a statewide, comprehensive program to improve forest health.
Rather than attempting to address the entire state at once, DNR selected Stevens County as the location for a pilot project. The Stevens County pilot will serve as the ‘trial run’ and template to be tested and adapted for other parts of the state. Stevens County was selected because of its broad landownership pattern, existing forest health problems, existing markets for wood products, and working relationships among stakeholders.
The mission of the pilot project is to assist forest landowners in reducing risk from insects, disease and wildfire by conveying information and technical assistance.
The broad program goals encompass:
- Build landowner and general public awareness of forest health conditions and risks;
- Identify and acquire data needed to predict risks to forest health;
- Evaluate existing services available to landowners and increase service delivery, specifically toward providing science- and landowner objective-based management recommendations and engaging traditionally inactive owners;
- Coordinate cross-boundary forest health restoration efforts with tribal, federal, and private parties, including managing DNR lands in such a way as to demonstrate exemplary leadership in forest health risk reduction;
- Synchronize state and federal policies by working cooperatively so as to encourage active, ecosystem-based forest health management at the landscape scale.
Program accomplishments to date include:
- Convened initial stakeholder meetings and conducting legislative and government-to-government briefings;
- Expanded DNR personnel capacity for the forest health management program;
- Indentified preliminary focal areas within Stevens County for data gathering, cross-boundary coordination, and landowner outreach;
- Acquired grant funds for Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data collection.
- Contracted with LiDAR acquisition vendor.
- Organized partner land management organizations to uniformly collect forest inventory information that will be used to calibrate LiDAR data.