Forest Field Program

Healthy forests: the heart of the wild Northwest

Old-growth forests and other wildlands are the heart of the Northwest. Healthy watersheds, mature forests and grasslands go hand-in-hand with healthy, prosperous communities and abundant wildlife.

Ancient forests also provide excellent outdoor recreation opportunities and vital habitat for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, Roosevelt elk, salmon, bull trout and a variety of other iconic and imperiled species.

Conservation Northwest was one of the first conservation groups to recognize the value of ecological forest restoration and community collaboration. A flagship program since our founding, through our Forest Field Program we advance the use of the latest scientific research and community collaboration to help restore and protect forests, rivers, and other wildlands while also promoting sustainable forestry and benefiting local communities. 

We engage in the design of specific projects, apply our field experience to shape broader policies that affect the national forest and wildlife habitat, and engage collaboratively with other stakeholders to promote landscape-scale restoration of forests and watersheds. Currently, we maintain forest staffers for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville national forests. 

We’re among the few regional groups that track forestry projects from concept to completion on-the-ground through our Forest Watch field work, including;

  • Verifying riparian widths and timber sale unit boundaries,
  • Checking markings on old trees and verifying snag tree protections,
  • And ensuring thorough logging road closures as appropriate.

We encourage the Forest Service to adopt responsible management and ecological restoration driven by collaboration and vigorous science to add resilience to vast expanses of forests and wildlife habitats across the Pacific Northwest. We also leverage field examples and expertise into policy through lobbying, media exposure, court rulings, and public support and involvement.

News on our Forest Field Program

State Trust Lands

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 management and resilience on state and private forest lands, including State Trust Lands and special places such as the Loomis State Forest, Blanchard Mountain and Lake Whatcom.

We believe that the Washington State Constitution uniquely allows and directs the state to manage its granted lands with a balance of benefits to both the public and specific named beneficiaries. We pursue opportunities to both uphold this principle on the ground and establish it in case law and policy. We expect state trust lands to benefit the public’s interest in clean water and biodiversity including the needs of threatened and endangered species like marbled murrelets and spotted owls.

Since 1989, our Forest Field Program:

  • Protects old-growth forests and helps restore younger forests so they can mature into old growth.
  • Works with state and federal agencies, elected officials, local residents and other organizations to push for state and regional policies on wildfire that support forest resilience and community preparedness.
  • Keeps watch over state and federal public forests and grasslands and objects or appeals risky projects through our Forest Watch effort.
  • Advocates for managing federal and state forests for ecological resilience, not purely short term gain.
  • Ecologically restores national forests, while supporting efforts to conserve wildlife habitat and working forests on private and state lands.
  • Works with local communities and other groups to protect large “snag” trees which provide vital wildlife habitat, while also respecting the needs and desires of people and communities to sustainably harvest firewood.
  • Conservation Northwest and our allies work to decommission unsustainable and out-of-use roads and restore and secure both forest and aquatic habitat. We also participate in the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative and other collaborative efforts to reduce the impact of old forest roads on water quality and wildlife habitat.
  • Joins coalitions to work closely with communities to protect and restore forests while also benefiting rural and other communities. This includes leadership in the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative and other groups.