2023 is fast approaching, and we’re eager as beavers in a wetland forest to start some of the new projects we have planned. But before we start construction on our next lodge (so to speak), we’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of NNRG’s most notable achievements and activities of 2022.
1. Monitoring shows the value of snow gaps at the Nisqually Community Forest climate adaptation project
In winter 2021-2022, we completed our first season of snow monitoring at our climate adaptation project near Ashford, WA.
Forestry techniques like thinning and gap cuts are sometimes recommended to increase snowpack, and thereby increase ecosystem resilience in the face of a changing climate. To provide local proof of concept that these methods work, in 2021 we installed several snow gaps at the Nisqually Community Forest, and thinned parts of the forest to different densities.
Last winter, NNRG staff measured weekly snow accumulation in the gaps and the thinned areas using snow probes and wildlife cameras placed across from snow gauges. This year, we cut another 16 gaps in the forest as part of the demonstration project.
Our expectation that more snow would accumulate in the gaps and the thinned forest than the unthinned forest was broadly confirmed. The results showed that significantly more snow accumulated in the gap, and that there was more snow in the thinned forest than the control. In December we hosted a webinar to discuss the implications of our findings.
2. Addressed 35 audiences on ecological forestry
Workshops and field tours are at the core of NNRG’s educational programs—because there’s often no better way to learn about ecological forestry than in-person and in the forest.
In 2022 our staff organized 21 workshops, webinars, and tours and spoke at 14 others. The events attracted nearly 1000 people people across six Washington counties. Some examples:
In the spring we brought our forest risk reduction education to Snohomish County for the first time. 20 forest owners from the area gathered in Darrington for an all-day workshop lead by Director of Forestry Kirk Hanson. Participants learned about selective thinning and other hands-on techniques for reducing wildfire, pest, and disease risk in their forests.
In July, several staff co-led a tour through an active harvest in NNRG’s Quilcene demonstration forest. Tour participants learned about the economics of ecological forestry, the tools to implement it successfully on smaller parcels, and the structural and biotic features of forests that help wildlife thrive.
In late fall, we showed forestry professionals and watershed managers from around the region our climate adaptation project at Nisqually Community Forest. As we walked through the project sites, attendees were able to see firsthand how forestry techniques like thinning and gap cuts can increase snowpack and improve spring and summer streamflows.
3. Managed 10 harvests covering 288 acres
Forest owners — from land trusts and public agencies to families and small businesses — turn to NNRG for help in designing and managing careful and profitable timber harvests. In 2022, the NNRG forestry team managed 10 such harvests, covering 288 acres in Washington. The harvests were designed to achieve a variety of the landowners’ goals, from creating a more diverse forest structure and species mix to improve habitat for birds and other wildlife, to generating revenue for an outdoor education center’s program, to preparing a family forest for hotter, drier times. With every harvest, our team recommends a cutting strategy that will improve long-term forest health, productivity, and timber quality and value.
4. Helped organize the first in-person Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit at Pack Forest
In collaboration with the Forest Stewards Guild, Intertribal Timber Council, Oregon State University, and the University of Washington, NNRG staff helped organize the first in-person convening of the Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit. The summit took place at the UW Pack Forest and invited participants to take part in 18 sessions and events over two nights and three days. A broad mix of Northwesterners discussed topics ranging from Oregon’s response to the Emerald Ash Borer, to strategies for building a diverse future of natural resource professionals.
5. Wrote 13 forest management plans and conservation activity plans that cover 672 acres of forest in Oregon and Washington.
A forest management plan is a landowner’s blueprint for how they will steward their forest. In 2022, NNRG staff wrote 13 plans rooted in ecological forestry for small private woodland owners, conservation groups, and youth camps.
The plans covered a total area of nearly 700 acres in Oregon and Washington, and those forests now have a comprehensive evaluation of the natural resources they shelter, and a 30-year timeline of management recommendations to protect those resources. More information on our management planning services is available here.
6. Managed a Forest Stewardship Council certificate encompassing 194,283 acres in WA and OR
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certification is a market-based, voluntary system for ensuring that wood products come from well-managed forests. NNRG offers cost-effective access to FSC certification through our FSC® group certificate, which currently represents 31% of FSC certified land in Oregon and Washington (194,283 acres).
Our certified members include family woodland owners, small-scale timber businesses, public parks, municipal watersheds, non-profits, educational centers, and conservation organizations. Learn more about our group certificate and how to get certified, here.
7. Hosted 11 evening Fireside Chats for forest owners
This year we launched a series of virtual community events, called Fireside Chats, in which forest owners can talk directly with NNRG staff, other forestry professionals, and connect with other forest owners in western Washington and Oregon. The chats have covered a variety of topics, ranging from increasing fire resilience, to estate planning for forest owners, to techniques for improving wildlife habitat. The events had a total attendance of 217 forest owners from Washington and Oregon.
Recordings of the Fireside Chats are available on NNRG’s YouTube channel here.
8. Helped launch the Climate-Smart Wood Group
In collaboration with seven partner organization, we helped launch the Climate-Smart Wood Group, an effort to connect builders and architects with wood that has a lower carbon footprint than business-as-usual forestry.
Our goal is to recognize and reward forests managed to higher levels of environmental and social protection.
9. Provided on-site advice at 56 forests in the Northwest
In 2022 the NNRG team visited 56 forests – including our FSC-certified members and beginning woodland owners – to advise on and plan forest management activities. In-person site visits are crucial for getting to know the landowners with whom we work. For many on the NNRG team, getting to walk through a forest grove while hearing about a landowner’s vision for their land is one of the best parts of the job. And for landowners, there’s no substitute for having a forester walk through a forest and interpret what the unique composition of vegetation, soil, hydrology, and wildlife mean for the forest’s long-term health.
For landowners who don’t know what to expect on a site visit with a professional forester, we made a video!
10. Added three videos to the NNRG video library
This year marked the release of three new videos covering a range of topics. The first celebrated NNRG’s 30th anniversary, and provided a short history of what we’ve done over the past three decades.
Our “What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Forester” video explains for beginning forest landowners what happens when a forester comes to your land for a site visit.
This year marked our 30th anniversary helping people practice better forestry in the Pacific Northwest. We’re proud of everything that we’ve accomplished together with our community of landowners and forest stewards, and can’t wait to roll up our sleeves for Year 31.