Our Hood Canal forests connect and support us
Forests, like shellfish and salmon, define the character of the Hood Canal region. Forests line the shoulders of the Olympic Mountains, our shorelines, and the lowlands we call home.
There are approximately 675,000 acres of forests in the Hood Canal area:
- Evergreen forests dominate the majority of the Hood Canal area from the coasts to the mountains.
- Deciduous and mixed canopy forests are primarily associated with coastal and lowland areas, and with river valleys.
Forests perform important environmental functions and enhance our quality of life in many ways:
- Help ensure that we have clean and abundant water, while decreasing flood risks
- Provide food, cover, and breeding areas for many plants and animals
- Contribute organic material to streams, which improves habitat and provides food resources for fish
- Provide jobs and recreational opportunities (e.g., timber, tourism, hiking)
- Keep us connected with our cultural heritage
- Enhance aesthetics and views
Forests are managed as protected public lands, working lands, and residential lands--forming a mosaic that supports our way of life:
- ¼ of the forest cover in Hood Canal is in areas that are intended to accommodate residential development
- ¼ of the forest cover is on lands that are managed primarily for conservation or recreational use
- ½ of forest land is managed as working lands, for timber production within national forest or on state or privately owned lands
Understanding how these different management regimes affect forest resources will help us in crafting the right strategies to meet Integrated Watershed Plan (IWP) goals.
Our forests will support us for generations
The Integrated Watershed Plan (IWP) goal is to restore and maintain healthy functioning forests for the protection of aquatic and terrestrial resources on forest lands within the Hood Canal region. Achieving healthy, properly functioning forests around Hood Canal means maintaining the amount of forest cover; improving the quality of our forests (more diversity in species and age class); and creating greater connectivity between forests and aquatic habitats. This will require implementing management strategies that:
- Increase wild and diverse forests (e.g., through reforestation)
- Maintain the area and productivity of managed, working timberlands in lieu of converting them to residential lands
- Maintain forest cover in residential lands (reducing fragmentation of existing stands)
There are a number of large-scale and community-based efforts designed to address the key challenges to achieve our Integrated Watershed Plan (IWP) Forest goals, including to:
- Review Habitat Conservation Plans that are used to manage and protect habitat, including marine waters, rivers, lakes, and associated forests, and the species that use them
- Review local land use ordinances and comprehensive plans
- Identify gaps in protection of forests and develop a plan to fill those gaps
- Align the aquatic protections identified within each Habitat Conservation Plan with local ordinances
- Obtain development rights in areas at threat of conversion
- Acquire lands that are better suited to conservation than timber or residential development
- Steward timber reproduction lands that are typically planted as monocultures to become more diverse with respect to species and age
- Support and encourage community forestry
Learn about what each of us can do to help Hood Canal forests.