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.

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.

Washington Forestland Ownership Washington's total land area is 42.5 million acres. Half of this is forested. Nearly 36% of the forestland is privately owned, and 64% is managed by the government.
Acres
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Acres
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Percent of Total

These terms are used as defined by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the USDA Forest Service:

* Industrial private landowners include land that is privately owned, which has a primary purpose of producing timber products for profit and per owner is 10,000 acres or more of forestland.

** Nonindustrial private landowners include land that is privately owned and per owner is less than 10,000 acres of forestland.

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

Washington Total Land Area 42,515 100%
Forestland 22,119 52%
Other Land (urban, cropland, etc.) 20,396 48%
Total Government Forestland 14,261 64%
Federal 9,538 43%
National Forest Service 5,485
National Forest Service Wilderness 2,569
National Forest Scenic & Recreation 165
National Parks 1,132
Department of Defense 60
Bureau of Land Management 69
US Fish & Wildlife, National Wildlife Refuges 58
State Trust Lands 2,683 12%
Native American 1,678 7%
County and Municipal 362 2%
Total Private Forestland 7,858 36%
Industrial Private Landowners* 4,614 21%
Non-Industrial Private Landowners** 3,244 15%

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.