Support the Carbon Project!
In April of 2021, Washington State Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz announced that the DNR was setting aside 10,000 acres of state forest land in Western Washington for "sequestration and storage" and to "protect some of our most ecologically and culturally valuable forests, while generating millions of dollars in revenue for the schools, colleges, and critical local services that state trust lands support." In October, 2022, DNR released a list of 50 candidate sites the agency is considering for inclusion in the project.
Candidate sites chosen by DNR include an estimated 4,000 acres of currently unprotected, lowland legacy forests. Some of these forests are well over a century old, and exhibit old growth characteristics. At least seven timber sales that were planned in these legacy forests have been either delayed or cancelled, including Oracle, Bessie, Critter, Echosystem, Quiver, Upper Rutzatz, and Silent Hill. Local community advocacy was critical to getting these forests included on the list.
An independent analysis reveals that a majority of forests chosen by DNR for inclusion in the project have been clearcut and re-planted within the past 60 years. It is misleading to characterize these plantation forests as being among the "most ecologically or culturally valuable forests" in Western Washington. The site selection process has been opaque, and sites were chosen by DNR staff with little to no public involvement. DNR purportedly used FSC High Conservation Value (HCV) criteria to identify candidate sites. However, most of the younger forests that were selected for inclusion are not structurally or biologically diverse, and are much more vulnerable to wildfire than older, naturally regenerated forests. DNR needs to be more forthcoming about how the criteria were applied, and why the selected sites were chosen over other more biologically diverse, and carbon dense forests.
Not all forests included in the Carbon Project are older forests. DNR has selected approximately 14,000 acres of currently unprotected forest land for possible inclusion in the Carbon Project. Close to 40% are less than 60 years old. Only about 4,000 acres can be classified as "legacy" forests.
Despite what DNR has said, less than half of the 4,000 acres of the selected legacy forests were actually scheduled for harvest and at risk of being logged.
The Carbon Project is Franz's response to over a year of intense public pressure and protects only a small fraction of the remaining legacy forests of Southwestern Washington and in the Puget Sound lowlands. Meanwhile, DNR continues to clearcut thousands of acres of similar legacy forests every year in other lowland watersheds of Western Washington. The Carbon Project is a positive step forward, but much work remains to be done to protect our increasingly rare, publicly owned, lowland legacy forests.
February 9, 2023
February 13, 2023