Over the next 21 years, much of the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park (PGFHP) will be clearcut. If we can raise the money to buy the timber rights, we can preserve the forest in perpetuity.
The land is already owned by Kitsap County. Therefore, there is no possibility that the trees (the ones we save, anyway) will be cut down or that the land will go into private ownership. Except for thinning for the health of the forest, the trees we save here, and their ecosystem services, will stay in the community chest forever.
Given that we have a long association with the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park in north Kitsap County, WA, and live very close to it, we have chosen the trees of this forest park to be Our Forest Fund’s first project.
The Scope of the Project
To save the trees in the park, we need to move quickly. As of November 2020, there are only about 1800 acres with timber rights potentially available for sale. However, that number is a moving target.
As tracts fall under new harvest plans and logging permits, they are off the table and the available quantity of trees decreases. You can see in the map slideshow below that the tracts in the darker grey are “as good as gone”. They already have approved logging permits. (If you are reading on a small screen, you may find the slideshow on our home page easier to view.)
Timing Is Critical With a Moving Target
This is why we need to act quickly. Our plan is to complete the purchases within 2 years and save as many trees from logging as financially possible. Once purchased, the trees belong to Kitsap County in perpetuity.
A full timber appraisal is necessary to establish an accurate value for the timber. The value estimates we currently have range widely, from as low as $3000 to as high $10,000 per acre (trees only!) Any way you slice it, millions of dollars are needed to buy 1800 acres of trees.
But before we get to this point we must reopen discussions with Rayonier, and we can’t do that until we raise the required minimum of $500,000. We must do so soon before more tracts fall under the timber company’s 5-year logging plans. Thus our first target is $500,000.
Priorities: How to Choose
We spent many days walking the park with the county forester to learn about the status of the various sections of the forest. The overriding objective of saving the trees is to preserve habitat.
To that end, purchases of tracts contiguous or adjacent to sections where the county already owns the trees are top priority. This way, we maintain forest “corridors” for wildlife, rather than a patchwork of habitat “islands”. Other considerations include tree age, presence of wetlands and other ecological benefits.
Going forward, after the trees are safely in the possession of Kitsap County, the PGFHP Stewardship Committee and Kitsap County Parks will take the reins. A variety of strategies for funding the maintenance of the forest park become possible: a memorial grove, voluntary carbon market, community forestry and outdoor learning spaces, to name but a few.
But first, let’s get a seat at the table by raising $500,000.
What’s Been Done So Far
- October 2019 – County forester talks to stewardship group about possible Save the Trees Campaign
- May 2020 – Tree-saving committee galvanized into action by impending harvest of 317 acres in the heart of the park
- June/July 2020 – Communicated with Rayonier about option agreement
- June 2020 – Our Forest Fund formed, independent of stewardship group
- July-Sept – County forester walks the forest sections with Our Forest Fund principals
- August/October 2020 – Met with County Commissioner Robert Gelder to discuss campaign to buy timber rights
- November 2020 – Our Forest Fund agreement signed with Kitsap Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3), as fiscal agent
- December 2020 – Our Forest Fund website development complete: Fundraising begins!