Assisting Small Forest Landowners
Click here to read the January 2008 High Country News article, "Treehuggers and treecutters unite" about how WFLC and small forest landowners worked together to convince the state legislature to change regulations in a way that could help keep the foresters on the land.
Working to Create a Small Forest Landowner-Friendly Regulatory Environment
About one-half (4 million acres!) of Washington’s state and private forests are owned by small forest landowners and about one million of these acres are located in transition areas adjacent to rapidly growing urban, suburban, and ex-urban areas. Many of these parcels of forest are less than 300 acres. A dangerous myriad of factors are forcing more and more small forest landowners to go out of business including:
- global competition
- lack of capital and economy of scale
- rapid suburbanization
- lucrative offers by developers
- complex environmental regulations
WFLC believes that the time has come for small forest landowners and environmental activists to partner together to promote long-term, environmentally-sound forestry for small forest landowners.
Small forest landowners’ stewardship plays a vital role in protecting our forests and preventing sprawl from devouring rural areas. WFLC is committed to encouraging forest practices rules that benefit both the small forest landowners and the forests. However, small forest landowners are selling off their land despite their attachment to it and the fact that they often consider themselves to be stewards of the land.
How WFLC Plans to Help Small Forest Landowners
WFLC attorneys and staff have met numerous times with small forest landowner groups to understand their needs and challenges. WFLC has committed to working with the “Smalls” in many ways, including:
- Working to create a regulatory system that recognizes environmentally-sound long-term stewardship plans so that small forest landowners can adopt these plans and avoid red-tape for years to come.
- Working to improve the “Alternate Plan” process, a process by which a small forest landowner can obtain an exemption from the normal rules if the landowner proves he or she can meet environmental targets on a site-specific basis.
- Working to develop policies that create an incentive for small forest landowners to keep their land in forestry, including a system that provides money for “ecosystem services” (water, carbon, flood control) and a system that enables development rights to be purchased.