THE DIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON’S FORESTS

With its temperate climate, abundant precipitation, and fertile soils, Washington has some of the most productive forests in the world.

Washington’s forests cover one-half of our land area, mostly west of the Cascade Mountain Range. The rest of the state has vast stretches of agricultural lands, sage desert, and many mountain peaks that reach above the timberline. Also, cities and towns across the state now thrive where forests once grew.

In each forest region, you’ll find a unique variety of trees species, plants, and animals. Foresters study the local conditions and tailor their forestry programs to sustain and protect the native species in each forest region.

About two-thirds of Washington’s forestland is publicly owned, while the remaining one-third is privately owned. Federal forests are brown, State Department of Natural Resources land is tan and municipal forestland is red. The balance of owners, tribal lands are golden, private land is dark green, family forest landowners are light green, and conservation ownership is purple. This diversity allows Washington’s forests to fulfill many economic, social, and environmental needs. Washington’s forest land ownership has evolved over the years. New structures have developed in response to changes to pension and income tax law changes, including Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs), and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Click here for the Changing Nature of Forest Landownership.

In our national forests, parks, and wildlife refuges, forests continue to flourish as they have for centuries. In our working forests, trees are grown, harvested, and replanted in a continuing cycle to provide us with forest products we use every day. Click here to learn about working forests in your county.

U.S. Forest Service, USFS Land Area Reports, as of September 30, 2006. (www.fs.fed.us)

The Future of Washington Forests Report

Growing concern for Washington’s forestlands prompted the state legislature to authorize a major study called “The Future of Washington Forests.” The state Department of Natural Resources contracted with the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources to prepare a comprehensive report assessing topics such as the competitiveness of Washington’s timber supply, conversion of forestlands to urban development, and forest health. The project also relied on the participation of stakeholders — including WFPA and many of its members — to produce a set of policy recommendations for the legislature. The results are now available in The Future of Washington Forests 2007 Report to the Legislature.