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Forests & Community

Mature and old-growth forests are the heart of the Northwest, and communities - and wildlife - thrive when forests thrive.

Old growth, Keep Cool trail, MBSNF. Photo Brett Baunton
Old growth, Keep Cool trail, MBSNF. Photo Brett Baunton

Heart of the Northwest

Mature and old-growth forests are the heart of the Northwest. Healthy watersheds and older forests go hand-in-hand with healthy, prosperous communities and wildlife habitat

Conservation Northwest was one of the first conservation groups to recognize the power of ecological forest restoration and community collaboration. Through our Forest Field Program, these tools help restore and protect forests while also promoting sustainable forestry and benefiting local communities.

Since 1989, our Forest Field Program:

Learn about our community collaboration to improve forests and watersheds, or read about our efforts to create sustainable road systems in our National Forests! 

Old growth

One of our longest running programs at Conservation Northwest, our National Forest Watch, (part of our Forest Field Program) protects and restores forests by taking part in projects and policies on our local national forests to track specific projects as they are proposed, comment on policies that affect the national forest and wildlife habitat, and engage collaboratively.

Old-growth forests offer people of all walks of life opportunities for recreation, enjoyment, and enrichment. National forests harbor most of the quality, large expanses of forest remaining in the West and also contain some of the richest remaining wildlife habitat.

Mature and old-growth forests support a diversity of plant and animal life. Downed and standing dead trees provide birds and mammals nests, dens, and protective cover. Healthy wild forests and their rivers are a source of healthy trout and salmon and pure drinking water.

Forest restoration and National Forest Watch

We encourage the Forest Service to adopt responsible management and ecological restoration driven by vigorous science to add resilience to vast expanses of even-aged, plantation conifer forests in the Northwest. Our main focus today is forest restoration and collaboration on the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville National Forests.

We also work closely with the state Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, forestry companies and other conservation organizations to promote ecological resilience on state and private forest lands. 

Fishers recovered to Washington, 2008
Fishers recovered to Washington, 2008

Forests and rivers

Forests maintain and restore healthy watersheds. Older trees supply shade for fish and large wood to our streams. Removal and restoration of unused road beds improves rivers, wildlife habitat, and healthy watersheds and drinking water.

Conservation Northwest is part of a voluntary group dedicated to restoring the health of the Upper Yakima Watershed in Washington and addressing the social, economic, and ecological issues that arise in restoration. The Upper Yakima Watershed Action Group is open to the public and meets quarterly.

We're working regionally with partners to provide funding and guidance on forest management for watershed health. For example, with your support, we helped achieve a new Lake Whatcom park, the largest local park in Washington, on 15 square miles in the Lake Whatcom watershed near Bellingham, clean drinking water source for 90,000 people.

Saying "No" to risky projects

Such as a proposal from a Canadian mining company for an open-pit copper mine in the heart of the  Methow Valley near Mazama. The site is near popular recreation areas and above critical spawning streams for endangered salmon, steelhead and bull trout. 

We're working with hundreds of activists and conservationists around the state, as well as partner organizations, to protect the upper Methow watershed from reckless mining. Learn more and get involved at www.protectflaggmountain.org.

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