Guest post by Seth Zuckerman, Executive Director of the Northwest Natural Resource Group
When Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) acquired the 196-acre Grovers Creek Preserve in eastern Kitsap County, its staff knew it would need help stewarding that diamond in the rough. The Grover Creek floodplain and wetlands were dotted with stately old cedar, spruce and hemlock trees that sheltered the coho and steelhead in the creek below. However, the forests on the surrounding hillsides had been clearcut nearly a quarter-century before. The timber company’s replanting efforts had varying success, leaving some areas overcrowded with young conifers, while others were taken over by thickets of alder and maple.
Stewardship Manager Erik Pedersen knew that GPC would need a specialist’s advice to steer this forest back toward its full potential, so he brought Northwest Natural Resource Group’s (NNRG) Director of Forestry Kirk Hanson out to walk the property. “It’s great to have a habitat-minded forester that we can call on,” said Pedersen. “We don’t have a forester on staff, and NNRG’s goals are really similar to ours.”
It wasn’t the first time the Conservancy had enlisted the group’s assistance. In the early 2010s, Hanson developed management plans for eight forested acquisitions of the Conservancy, with the help of Conservancy volunteers who helped sample and inventory the properties. And Pedersen knew that Hanson wasn’t just an ecological forester, he was a good listener too. “Kirk let us have staff and volunteer involvement in the plan,” Pedersen said. “He was responsive to round after round of edits.”
Hanson is an old hand at working with land trusts, having also written plans for the Nisqually Land Trust, the Nisqually Community Forest, the Nature Conservancy of Washington, and the North Coast Land Conservancy in Oregon. “It’s great to help land trusts set in motion an ecological forestry legacy and to know that these projects will endure,” Hanson said.
NNRG’s services don’t stop at forest management plans. The organization also provides Forest Stewardship Council® certification through a group program that includes 190,000 acres of Washington and Oregon forestland. Their group certificate includes a whopping 58,000 acres owned by five different land trusts, certified by NNRG.
Additionally, NNRG aids land trusts and other forestland owners in managing a timber harvest. For example, on the west flanks of Mt. Rainier, NNRG is guiding its second year of ecological timber harvest for the Nisqually Land Trust and Nisqually Community Forest. NNRG oversees the entire process from planning and permitting to managing the loggers, selling the logs, and accounting for the proceeds.
Back at Grovers Creek, Pedersen is gearing up to put their new forest management plan into action. This winter, he’ll work with volunteers to create small gaps in the hardwood canopy and re-establish conifers that didn’t take when the forest was replanted 25 years ago. And with 90 more acres just added to the preserve, he is planning his next walk in the woods with Hanson, to envision the stewardship of the Conservancy’s newest acquisition.