The Land Trust has worked to protect this forest since 2010, and in partnership has ensured it will remain undeveloped and managed as healthy timberland. We’re now working with the community to help transform the land into a community forest to provide public access and ecological, social, and economic benefits forever.
This aerial view showcases the Chimacum Ridge forest and Center Valley in the background. Photo by John Gussman.
Rising between Center and Beaver Valleys in East Jefferson County, Chimacum Ridge is an 853-acre forested landmark. Nineteen headwater tributaries flow from the ridge into the mainstem and east fork of Chimacum Creek — home to one of the most successful community-based salmon recovery efforts in our region.
Chimacum Creek is fed by 19 tributaries from the forested ridge above. Photo from Beaver Valley by Robert Tognoli.
The ridge stands prominently in the heart of the Chimacum watershed, two miles from the center of Chimacum and surrounded by 2,000 acres of Land Trust protected farms, forests, and salmon habitat. It is adjacent to Valley View Forest, a 65-acre forest acquired by Jefferson Land Trust in 2018 that will eventually connect the ridge to Center Valley Road for public access.
The land is forested with mixed stands of mostly 40-year-old Douglas-fir, and naturally regenerated western red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce. Broadleaf trees like big-leaf maple, red alder, bitter cherry, and willow species are also scattered among the conifers. Additionally, the forest contains food and medicinal species like salal, mushrooms, serviceberry, evergreen huckleberry, oregon grape, and elderberry. About 27 acres of freshwater forested wetlands, including a natural rare cranberry bog, are on the property, and it features about 10 miles of logging roads, ideal for future recreational use.
Chimacum Ridge forest. Photo by Tim Lawson.
The Land Trust has worked to protect this forest since 2010, and in partnership has ensured it will remain undeveloped and managed as healthy timberland. We are now working with the community to help transform the land into a community forest providing public access and ecological, social, and economic benefits forever.
Once purchased, Chimacum Ridge Community Forest will provide renewable resources that are made available to local nonprofit and entrepreneurial endeavors. Everything from custom timber products for carpentry, woodworking, and wooden boat building, to harvest of annual botanical and berry growth, to guided experiences on the land, are planned. Traditional food and tree harvests by local tribes are important cultural and economic activities that this forest will support.
A forester answers guest questions on a public tour. Photo by Chris Jones.
In 2010, Jefferson Land Trust learned that Chicacum Ridge was being prepared for sale to a residential developer. For four years, the Land Trust worked in cooperation with Rayonier, the commercial owner, to find ways to conserve the forest. Then in 2015, the Trust for Public Land introduced the opportunity to EFM, a conservation-oriented private equity firm; EFM became the bridge owner in 2015 with the intention of selling the forest to Jefferson Land Trust by 2023. Two easements have been placed on the ridge during their ownership. The first is a restrictive easement acquired by the Navy that permanently removes development rights on the entire property. The second is a conservation easement held by the Land Trust that protects forest ecology values.
Since the project’s inception in 2010, the Land Trust has sought community involvement in all phases of the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest project. As we now prepare for the land acquisition phase and associated fundraising campaign, these activities are increasing.
A 2015 tour of Chimacum Ridge with Congressman Derek Kilmer and County Commissioner Kate Dean.
In early 2020, with a grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program, Jefferson Land Trust convened a Project Team — made up of 12 community leaders with a strong sense of place and skills relevant to the community forest vision — to lead the planning effort.
This team helped define what our community forest could be through a series of 10 meetings. To ensure that the diverse needs and interests from local communities were represented in defining a strategic vision for the forest, they recruited a broad group of stakeholders — the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) — including elected officials and neighbors as well as members from local tribes, woodworking and boatbuilding businesses, forestry, economic development organizations, tourism-focused businesses, black and indigenous communities of color, disability advocacy organizations, schools, farms, the arts, and recreational groups.
Together, this large working group crafted a Strategic Vision Framework for the Chimacum Ridge Community Forest that will guide all planning activities moving forward.
In early 2021, this vision will be shared with the wider public through meetings and surveys for broad input and feedback. The resulting broader collective vision will form the basis of the community forest’s master management plan.
A Spotted Towhee in Chimacum Ridge forest. Photo by Kerry Tremain.
If Chimacum Ridge Forest is not acquired by the Land Trust in 2023, the forest will be sold to a commercial forestry owner, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an expansive and dynamic community resource will be lost forever. Local boat builders and woodworkers will lose the chance to access older specialty trees grown to keep traditional skills and knowledge alive; local tribes will not regain access to an area historically used for the harvest of rare medicinal plants, fibers, and timber; local children and adults will not be able to learn about their community’s natural history, industry, and environment by exploring the forestland in their own backyard through school and college programs; and local residents and visitors will lose access to miles of trails for recreation.
Without the acquisition, Chimacum Ridge Forest cannot become an urgently needed engine of economic growth, a fount of knowledge and inspiration, a recreation destination, and a working forest that preserves the unique industrial and cultural traditions of our community for generations to come.
There are many ways to help and we need your voice at the table.
Community support or partnership commitments for this project include North Olympic Development Council, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Port Townsend School of Woodworking, WSU-Extension, CedarRoot Folk School, Black Lives Matter Jefferson County, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Chimacum School District, Jefferson County Conservation District, Northwestern School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes, and others.
Jefferson Land Trust is in pre-planning for a fundraising campaign for the purchase of Chimacum Ridge Community Forest. A fundraising committee will be convened in early 2021, and a campaign feasibility study will be completed by the end of summer 2021. If you would like to help support this effort, please contact Director of Philanthropy Kate Godman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!