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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 near Mount Baker. Photo Brett Baunton
Old growth near Mount Baker. 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 community collaboration and ecological forest restoration, tools that help restore and protect forests.

We protect old-growth forests and help restore younger forests so they can mature into old growth. In our Forest field program, we keep a watchful eye on the public's national forests, while supporting efforts to conserve wildlife habitat and ensure working forests on private lands.

Founder Mitch Friedman on working together

Forest restoration

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.

Old growth

Conservation Northwest protects the old-growth forest that remains around the state. 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.

Fishers recovered to Washignton, 2008
Fishers recovered to Washignton, 2008

State forests

State-lands old growth is especially important. Low-elevation forests are generally richer in wildlife and more diverse than colder, higher elevation forests. Some cut-over forests contain legacy, or remnant, old growth trees important to the forest wildlife. Overall, Washington is still losing older forests. Only about 6% of old growth remains today on westside Washington state-owned forests. But ecological restoration helps revitalize plantation forests, making them resilient to fire and disease, and moving them toward old-growth conditions.

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.

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, source of water for 90,000 people.

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