Six community forest projects to be funded in the capital budget
OLYMPIA - Washington’s 2021-23 capital budget includes $16.3 million for a new Community Forest Program administered by the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). This level of funding will support six projects driven by local communities in Chelan, Jefferson, Pierce, Klickitat, Kittitas, and Kitsap Counties. The new Community Forest grant program, open to local governments, tribes, and nonprofits, addresses a critical funding gap in the state by supporting the acquisition and development of important working forestlands so they can be managed on behalf of local communities. In centering the needs of local stakeholders, community forests promote active management, restoration and development that provide immediate economic impact, while securing the lasting ecological and social benefits that Washington’s working forests hold.
About the Community Forests Program
The Community Forests Program (CFP) is an entirely new funding program administered by the Recreation and Conservation Office. CFP provides acquisition and development funding to local entities (cities, counties, Tribes, nonprofits, or agencies collaborating with local partners) so that they can acquire working forestland to be managed for multiple benefits based on community needs.
The proposed Nason Ridge Community Forest, the top ranked project on the list, would allow Chelan County to acquire over 3,700 acres that overlooks Lake Wenatchee, a popular regional destination. Community management of this unique parcel would allow the county to secure and enhance diverse recreational opportunities in collaboration with the adjacent Lake Wenatchee State Park, provide habitat protection and restoration opportunities along 2.5 miles of Nason Creek (an important salmon and steelhead stream) and support active management to create new jobs and improve forest resiliency.
“Tourism and outdoor recreation not only helps drive our local economy, but also our way of life, and Nason Ridge is a prime place where this happens. Nason Ridge and adjacent Lake Wenatchee State Park alone host more than 400,000 visitors annually for year round access and enjoyment. The Nason Ridge Community Forest will generate local jobs through sustainable timber harvests, forest health restoration efforts, and outdoor recreation. We would like to thank Senator Hawkins and Representatives Steele and Goehner from the 12th District, as well as the Chelan County Commissioners for their strong support and 46th District Senator David Frockt for his leadership.” - Curt Soper, Executive Director, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust
(taken from Washington Association of Land Trusts April 26, 2021 press release)