Washington DNR launches Kettle/Sanpoil Watershed Forest Restoration Project to pilot incentive scheme that pays landowners up to US$200/acre to improve thinning, restoration activities

OLYMPIA, Washington , October 15, 2013 (press release) – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is piloting a new tool to help landowners address forest health problems in the areas around Republic, Curlew, Chesaw, Orient, Kettle Falls and Wauconda.

Often, landowners face a tough choice. Their woodlands are in a high-risk condition for insect outbreaks, but the economics of tree thinning and restoration to reduce those risks prove too costly. Some wait for the timber market to improve. Others might wait until an outbreak happens and try to clean up the dead timber afterward. Both choices can involve losing the scenic beauty, recreation, timber and other values that people care about from their land.

The project seeks to engage and help people who are in this situation using an incentive payment that improves otherwise economically marginal thinning and restoration activities. In exchange, landowners would agree to conduct the restoration project on their land using guidelines developed by DNR – a set of “prescriptions” to achieve forest health.

Willing landowners located in the project area are eligible to receive an incentive payment ranging from $100 to $200 per acre. The incentive payment is meant to help motivate landowners and cover some of the financial risk involved with thinning. Landowners get less risk of forest damage by taking preventative action. The people of the state, in turn, get the benefit of healthier forests, fewer severe wildfires and less taxpayer funds to fight them, and increased economic activity.

In order to participate in the project, landowners must have a written stewardship plan. Cost-share funding is also available to help develop forest stewardship plans.

The project is timely because forests in Okanogan and Ferry counties are currently experiencing elevated levels of damage from insects. In 2012, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark issued a Forest Health Hazard Warning for the area, citing two main causes of the damage: western spruce budworm and pine bark beetles.

Widespread increases in tree densities and a loss of tree species diversity has occurred over much of eastern Washington during the last 100 years. The result is crowded, unhealthy forests that are susceptible to various forest insects and diseases and severe wildfire.

For more information on the Kettle/Sanpoil Watershed Forest Restoration Project, please contact:

Steve Harris
Landowner Assistance Manager
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Colville, WA
509-684-7474
steven.harris@dnr.wa.gov

Chuck Hersey
Forest Health Specialist
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Olympia, WA
360-902-1045
chuck.hersey@dnr.wa.gov

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