Forest Field Program

Healthy forests: the heart of the wild Northwest

Healthy forests and watersheds go hand-in-hand with healthy, prosperous communities and abundant wildlife. Forests also provide outdoor recreation opportunities and vital habitat for fishers, elk, spotted owls, marbled murrelets, salmon, bull trout and a variety of other iconic and imperiled species.

A flagship program since our founding, we advance the use of the latest scientific research and engage collaboratively with other stakeholders to promote landscape-scale restoration of forests and watersheds. We apply our field experience to shape national and regional policies through forest collaboration, lobbying, media exposure, and public support and involvement.

We maintain forest staffers for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville national forests. Our Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration program also conducts focused work between the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Mount Rainier. 

Forest collaboration in the Methow Valley is restoring habitat and forest healthy through the Mission Restoration Project, one of many such efforts we’re involved in. Photo: USFS

In addition to informing forestry projects from conception, we’re among the few regional groups that track forestry projects to completion on-the-ground through our Forest Watch field work, including;

  • Verifying riparian widths and timber sale unit boundaries,
  • Checking markings on old trees and verifying snag tree protections,
  • And ensuring thorough logging road closures as appropriate.

You can also visit these webpages for our work related to, wildfires, ATVs/ORVs and mountain bikes on national forests and other public lands.

News on our Forest Field Program

State Forest Lands

We also work closely with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, forestry companies and other organizations to promote ecological management and resilience on state forest lands, including State Trust Lands and special places such as the Loomis State Forest, Blanchard Mountain and Lake Whatcom.

We believe that the Washington State Constitution directs the state to manage its granted lands with a balance of benefits to both the public and beneficiaries. We pursue opportunities to both uphold this principle on-the-ground and establish it in law and policy. We expect state trust lands to benefit the public’s interest in clean water and biodiversity, including the needs of endangered wildlife species, as well as trust beneficiaries.

Learn about a 2020 lawsuit to ensure Washington’s state forests are managed for all the people, as the state constitution directs. Or read about the history of “trust lands” and our work on them in this blog from our Executive Director

News on State Forest Lands

State forests like this one along the Clearwater River provide habitat for marbled murrelets, fishers, elk, salmon and many other species. Photo: Chase Gunnell

Forest Collaboration

Collaboration is a vital tactic for creating durable conservation progress. We are proud to be a part of numerous ground-breaking coalitions that address issues crucial to wildlife, wildlands and people. For a full list of coalitions and collaboratives we’re involved with, please visit our Coalitions page.

As part of our Forest Field Program, we’re actively involved in the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative, Tapash Collaborative, Chumstick Wildfire Coalition, Washington Prescribed Fire Council, Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, and serve on Washington’s Forest Health Advisory Committee. Read more about our work in forest collaboratives on this page.

Since 1989, our Forest Field Program works to:

  • Ecologically restores national forests, while supporting efforts to conserve wildlife habitat and working forests on private and state lands.
  • Joins coalitions to work closely with communities to protect and restore forests while also benefiting rural and other communities.
  • We pursue actions that restore ecological resilience in dry forests in Eastern Washington, expanding the use of prescribed fire and road decommissioning.
  • Protect and restore the distribution and abundance of large, old tree habitat across the landscape, and other ecological drivers such as fire and basin hydrology.
  • Works with state and federal agencies, elected officials, local residents and other organizations to push for state and regional policies on wildfire that support forest resilience and community preparedness.
  • Support Washington State Department of Natural Resources 20-Year Forest Health Strategy to improve ecological resilience of federal, state, and non-federal forests and watersheds.
  • Works with local communities and other groups to protect large snag habitat, while also respecting the needs and desires of people and communities to sustainably harvest firewood.
  • Decommission unsustainable and out-of-use roads and restore and secure both forest and aquatic habitat. We also participate in the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative and other collaborative efforts to reduce the impact of old forest roads on water quality and wildlife habitat.
  • Through our new Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration program we’re crafting a strategy for landscape forest and watershed restoration in heavily managed watersheds between Mount Rainier and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
  • To defend national forests and other public lands, we convened a statewide network of activists to resist attacks on national monuments and generate resistance in Republican districts to harmful legislation.
Our northwest national forests, such as the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest photographed here near Bonaparte Mountain, provide critical habitat for wildlife and fish, public lands for outdoor recreation, hunting and angling, and important revenues for local communities and economies. We must manage them sustainably for the greatest good. Photo: Eric Zamora