News & Events

Chimacum Ridge Community Forest Update: Land Trust Purchases 853-Acre Chimacum Ridge

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 06/24/24

Panorama of forested ridge and farms

View of Chimacum Ridge Community Forest from the air by John Gussman.

For more than a decade, Jefferson Land Trust has been working to protect Chimacum Ridge with the vision of establishing the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest. Thanks to outstanding support from generous donors, conservation partners, and granting agencies, we recently completed the purchase of 853-acre Chimacum Ridge from our partner EFM — the Land Trust’s largest land acquisition to date!

Song Sparrow by Tim Lawson

Song Sparrows are common in Chimacum Ridge Community Forest. Photo by Tim Lawson.

Once it’s combined with the Land Trust’s adjacent Valley View Forest Preserve, the “future gateway” to the community forest, Chimacum Ridge Community Forest will total 918 acres of working forest, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.

Chimacum Ridge will be a shared living resource that’s deeply connected to its community, locally controlled and managed, and free and open to all people and creatures. It will have economic, ecological, and social (educational, recreational, and cultural) benefits for our community and will model a regenerative relationship with the land — forever.

Our work to realize the forest’s full potential is not over. With the land purchased, the trails and infrastructure need to be built, the public use and selective harvest plans finalized, and the ecological baseline studies completed before Chimacum Ridge Community Forest can open to the public in 2025.

People walking on ridgeline road under blue sky

Land Trust staff and community members walking the ridge line on an old logging road.

To provide public access to the community forest, we’ll be working with volunteers and contract crews over the next year to add trails, signage, additional parking, and other infrastructure that will allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of this special place, and begin to imagine how the possibilities offered by the community forest can best provide a balance of ecological, environmental, and social benefits to our community.

The exciting progress on Chimacum Ridge Community Forest is supported by Jefferson Land Trust’s Look to the Land campaign for a resilient future. The $8.25 million campaign will bring to life our community’s best ideas for how to protect and care for land to benefit current and future generations. To learn more and join the Look to the Land campaign, please visit our campaign website.

Are you interested in exploring Chimacum Ridge Community Forest before it opens in 2025? We encourage you to sign up for one of our “sneak peek” community tours being offered throughout the summer! To learn more and sign up for a tour, click here.

Meanwhile, we’ve put into practice the governance model approved by Jefferson Land Trust’s Board of Directors in 2023. We recruited seven great volunteers to serve as the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest Board of Managers, whom we’re pleased to introduce today:

Group of seven posing with weed wrenches behind pile of Scotch broom.

Land Trust staff, AmeriCorps crew members, and Chimacum Ridge Community Forest Board Chair Tim Lawson (second from left) removing Scotch broom from Chimacum Ridge.

Tim Lawson, Board Chair; David Gilluly, Vice Chair; Devon Buckham, Secretary; Kris Lenke, Treasurer; Owen Fairbank; Dan Hysko; and Mike Gould. (To learn more about this Board, including individual bios and Board requirements, please visit the page on our website.)

From 2023-2025, the Board of Managers will be a working board that participates in the forest’s operations and helps launch the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest by establishing the processes and policies that will allow the Community Forest to succeed. The Board of Managers is expected to transition to a governing board by the end of 2025.

“I’m delighted to help members of the community bring a wealth of experience and passion for the land to work on the realization of a truly community guided forest,” explains Board Chair Tim Lawson.

Man in forest

Community Forest Manager Ryen Helzer

We’re also extremely pleased to introduce Ryen Helzer, the first community forest staff member. Ryen comes to the role of Community Forest Manager with a background in resource management, sustainable forestry, geographic information systems (GIS), wilderness therapy, and resilience management practices.

(Learn more about Ryen on the Jefferson Land Trust staff page.)

“Merging my passion for community connections and professional forestry experience has been a dream of mine that’s now a reality,” says Ryen. “The more I meet with neighbors, locals, and partners around this forest, the more I learn about how unique and beautiful this place is. I feel immense gratitude to have this opportunity and take on these responsibilities for our community and the new community forest.”

Since joining the organization, Ryen’s been overseeing the formation of the community forest, with help from volunteers, partners, tribes, schools, neighbors, contractors, local agencies, Land Trust staff members, the forest’s Board of Managers, and members of three newly formed volunteer advisory groups.

Crowd sitting in auditorium

The first meeting of three newly formed volunteer community forest advisory groups (economic, ecological, and social) at Chimacum Junior/Senior High School in early 2023.

We began recruiting community volunteers for these three advisory groups in early 2024, and the groups are now meeting to share knowledge, collaborate, and guide the establishment of the forest so that it can best serve the needs of Jefferson County today and into the future.

To read more about Chimacum Ridge Community Forest, please visit the page on our website.

You can read the strategic vision framework for Chimacum Ridge Community Forest by clicking here.

You’re welcome to experience the beauty of the forest anytime (in daylight hours) by visiting Valley View Forest Preserve, the “future gateway” to Chimacum Ridge Community Forest. Valley View is open from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm year round. An accessible trail leads from the parking area to a gorgeous community pavilion. Community volunteers contributed more than 500 volunteer hours to help create the pavilion, which is made of timber that was harvested onsite during our pilot selective harvest in 2021.

We’d like to share our thanks for the many volunteers and supporters who’ve made our progress on the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest possible. With their help, and that of many partners, a long-held vision is taking shape and we’re eager for the day Chimacum Ridge Community Forest finally opens to the public.

Photo of toddler Nathan and his dad marking a tree for habitat restoration at Valley View.

Young volunteer Nathan and his father mark a tree for habitat restoration at Valley View Forest in 2021.

If you’d like to learn more and get involved, click the links below:


Join a tour of Chimacum Ridge:

Volunteer with us:

Sign up for our Friends of the Forest list to receive news of special opportunities relating to the Ridge by clicking here.