A little over one-third of Washington’s forests are privately owned, mostly by companies that grow trees for the continuous production of forest products. About 60% of our state’s private forestland, 4.6 million acres, can be classified as being managed by “industrial private forest landowners.” Industrial private forest 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.
The other 40% of private ownership, about 3.2 million acres, consists of small family tree farmers and private individuals. Non-industrial private forest landowners include land that is privately owned and per owner is less than 10,000 acres of forestland. Many of these lands have been held by families for generations. Forest management goals vary from owner to owner. Some manage for income from timber harvesting, some manage for recreation, and some preserve wildlife habitat.
Through collaboration between our various levels of membership, innovative forest practices can be shared with all private foresters across the state of Washington.
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.
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.
Federal, state, local and tribal agencies each play a vital role in protecting Washington’s natural resources, while regulating forest practices in government-managed forests.
The United States Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, oversees seven national forests and is the largest government forest manager in Washington, caring for 7.7 million acres of the forests in the state. Their practice of forest management in Washington emphasizes wilderness preservation, protection of scenic areas, providing wildlife habitat, and the creation of recreational opportunities. Almost no commercial harvest occurs in Washington’s national forests.
Washington National Forests
The National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages 1.4 million acres of forest in three national parks in Washington. Protecting our national parks’ resources, while providing opportunity for public enjoyment of the parks, is the primary goal of this federal agency.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is the second largest government forest manager behind the USDA Forest Service. It oversees 2.2 million acres of forested state trust lands, protecting public resources, preventing and suppressing forest fires, and regulating forest practices.
The Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages about 50,000 acres of forestland in the state of Washington. The focus of the BLM is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Their office manages about 85,000 acres of forestland in Washington, mostly within National Wildlife Refuges, small wetlands, and other special management areas. Other key functions of this agency include enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, and conserving habitat.
The Native American tribes of Washington manage about 1.5 million acres of forestland, which is around 7% of the state’s total forests. Carrying on their ancestral traditions, the native people of Washington successfully manage and protect the forest environment and sustain themselves with the rich resources that the forestland provides.
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.