Forest Stewardship Council certifies Hoh River Trust

By Peninsula Daily News staff

FORKS — The Hoh River Trust, which owns 6,600 acres of land on a 35-mile stretch of the Hoh River, recently obtained Forest Stewardship Council certification of their practices which the trust says protect drinking water and habitat for endangered species while earning revenue and generating jobs from harvesting timber.

The trust acquired the timber tracts with the intent to steward the young forest into “diverse, resilient stands that support a range of native species.”

Past landowners replanted trees in dense, homogeneous plantations.

The trust now removes weak and smaller trees which, it says, will bring the stand to natural stocking density, reduce competition for light and nutrient resources and allow the larger trees to grow faster.

“We are accelerating tree growth through thinning,” said Michael Hagen, executive director of the trust.

The trust's lands get the same amount of annual rain as the Hoh Rain Forest in nearby Olympic National Park, encouraging rapid growth.

Rapid growth

“Spruce trees grow very quickly with broad branches and provide habitat for spotted owls and murrelets,” Hagen said.

The marbled murrelet is a small sea bird that lives in old-growth forests near the ocean.

Hagen added that the forests can develop old-growth forest structure of big trees, complex branching structures and continuous vegetation from the ground to canopy top in 150 to 200 years.

The trust's goal is to get all of its land back to this diverse, resilient condition.

Each year, the trust harvests 375,000 to 400,000 board feet of lumber from the land, bringing in about $100,000 in revenue.

Hagen said he expects that amount to increase as more stands of trees reach an age at which they can be thinned.

The forest council's certification both provides a framework for good, sustainable land management and access to the sustainable lumber market, he said.

According to the trust, the thinning work has also appealed to the hunters and anglers who like to use the trust's land.

It has opened up many 1-acre sized clearings where small plants can grow, attracting elk to forage and calve, Hagen said.

For more on the Hoh River Trust, click on hohrivertrust.org.

Last modified: December 08. 2013 10:24PM
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