This aerial view showcases Chimacum Ridge forest and Center Valley in the background. Photo by John Gussman.
The Washington state 2021-2023 state capital budget recently approved by Governor Jay Inslee includes $16.3 million for a new Community Forests Program administered by the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).
In 2020, our conservation team applied for a $3 million grant from this new program to help us acquire the 853-acre Chimacum Ridge Forest in 2023 and transform it into a community forest. Our Chimacum Ridge Community Forest project ranked second out of 15 projects statewide, and we recently learned that the funding for the program was approved by both the house and senate.
This $3 million grant gives us a strong head start toward our goal of purchasing Chimacum Ridge from current owner EFM by 2023 and turning it into a community forest — a project which the Land Trust has been working on for more than 10 years.
Our state legislators have all shown broad support for the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest project. Seen here is Representative Mike Chapman on a December 2016 site visit with Land Trust staff members.
Our thanks go to Representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger and Senator Kevin Van de Wege for their enthusiastic support of this project, and to the 50 community partners who advocated for this project and helped design the Strategic Vision Framework for the forest’s future operation. We’re also grateful for the many public and private grants and individual donations that have supported the development of this project to date.
The level of funding in the new state budget for the Community Forests Program will support our project as well as five other projects in Chelan, Pierce, Klickitat, Kittitas, and Kitsap counties. A big thank you to our governor, senators, and representatives for their vision and the level of support they are providing for this new program. Washington state funding for community forests is twice that of federal funding for community forests during the same timespan; strong evidence of our state’s leadership in this area.