Forest Collaboration

Restoring healthy forests for people, local communities and wildlife

Community collaboration is an amazing tool for rebuilding and reinvesting in rural communities and protecting and restoring Northwest forests.

“Ever increasing awareness of the effect of fire suppression and past forest management has led to an exponential increase in common ground between foresters, mill owners, conservationists, and communities. Collaboration has forged new common ground into active restoration projects in most of the forests we work on.” – David Heflick, Conservation Northwest

  • As part of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, Conservation Northwest works with community leaders, timber industry workers, and state and federal land managers promoting projects that protect ancient forest and roadless areas while ending years of conflict around forest management.
  • We helped form the Upper Yakima Watershed Action Group and today facilitate this group dedicated to restoring the function of the Upper Yakima watershed. The partnership groups share information, coordinate and leverage efforts, and collaborate on the Upper Yakima Restoration Stewardship Project in the I-90 corridor. This project also gets volunteers into the field to restore wildlife habitat in Washington’s central Cascades east of Snoqualmie Pass.
  • We remain active in a variety of other forest collaboratives and stewardship coalitions around the Northwest, from the Gifford Pinchot to the Central Cascades and north-central Washington. See below or click here for the full list.

Unique efforts

The collaborative efforts we’re involved in all carry the common thread of focusing on common ground activities that provide jobs and/or wood products while addressing high-priority restoration on our public lands. While Conservation Northwest prides itself on providing leadership and expert restoration knowledge for each of these groups, the success of each effort is dependent on the many varied individuals that contribute to each group. Each collaborative effort is unique in its goals and objectives. Many have emerged from opportunities rather than from conflict.

“Working for the health of rural communities is not something the environmental community considered when they set out to protect forests and wildlife, but it became a driving factor. ” – Regan Nelson, Conservation Northwest

By participating in collaborative efforts, Conservation Northwest blunts the wedge that some political interests seek to drive between ecology and economy, rural and urban people, and the east and west sides of Washington state. The more that we can meet our conservation challenges with solutions instead of raw conflict, the better we sustain and build support in all things we do to protect Northwest forests and wildlife.

Learn more about some of our partnerships

More on the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition

Conservation Northwest is part of an innovative forestry coalition that has labored together since 2002 to find solutions and a future for the Colville National Forest. The successful collaborative group includes timber mill owners (including Vaagen Bros. Lumber Company), conservationists (including Conservation Northwest), government workers, contract loggers, and many others.

Together participants have moved from controversy to common ground for the Colville National Forest.

Community collaboration on the Colville

What the Coalition has forged through successful collaboration is a ground-breaking plan for the national forest that balances forest restoration with working forests and wilderness protection.

  • Collaborative members promote projects with broad public support. All agree that controversial logging practices such as clearcutting, logging of old-growth trees, or logging in roadless areas are not acceptable.
  • Working together has brought common ground among people of many different stripes.
  • Collaboration has also brought success for forest restoration and timber jobs. For example, the Coalition’s cooperative Quartzite Timber Sale, just an hour north of Spokane, brings second-growth logs to a local mill, while safeguarding the 5,000-acre Quartzite roadless area and its old-growth stands of western red cedar, fir, and pine.
  • Forest appeals have stopped, replaced by timber projects all can agree on.
  • Broad-based support by people who live in the area.

Origins of the coalition

In 2002, several local leaders met in the Colville City Council chambers to hammer out fundamental agreements that became the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. Those leaders were Russ Vaagen, manager of Vaagen Brothers Lumber, Tim Coleman of the Kettle Range Conservation Group (who later became a Conservation Northwest employee), consulting forester Maurice Williamson, forester Lloyd McGee, Mike Petersen of The Lands Council, and former Twisp Mayor Jim Doran.

The coalition started by establishing areas of common agreement—rather than areas of disagreement—and applying those standards to decision making: Principles of good forestry, old-growth forest restoration, and wilderness protection.

What coalition members share is the desire to find collaborative solutions that restore damaged forests, protect homes and communities from wildfire, support timber and recreation economies, and protect habitat for wildlife in and around the Colville National Forest.