Forest Conservation

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Efforts to protect, maintain and restore forest complexity is a high priority for the refuge and benefits a wide-range of wildlife species, from birds to mammals and amphibians to fungi. Learn more about the refuge’s forest habitat

Forest lands in the Willapa Bay area are dominated by commercial timberlands. In fact, most of the forested acreage within the refuge and the Willapa Bay watershed is second or third growth timber. Very little "old growth", or late-successional, forest exists. One estimate states that less than one percent of the original coastal old growth remains. The largest old growth parcel in the refuge is the 274-acre Cedar Grove located on Long Island. Many of the 6,000 forested acres on the refuge are comprised of even-aged forest stands lacking in biological diversity.

A variety of wildlife species are dependent on old growth and late-successional forests. Black bear, black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, salamanders, forest-dwelling bats and other small mammals, marbled murrelets, pileated woodpeckers and other forest birds and a host of rare fungi and gastropods can be found in some refuge forests. Forest streams also provide habitat for anadromous fish, such as chinook, coho and chum salmon, and sea-run cutthroat trout.

Due to the degraded nature of refuge forests, as well as those of the surrounding areas, a major effort is needed to restore these forests to a semblance of their natural state. The refuge has embarked on a landscape-based forest management program in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, which manages the 7000 acre Ellsworth Creek Preserve which is located adjacent to the refuge. Forest inventories on both properties have been completed and a forest management plan has been developed. Activities to restore forests include manipulation of degraded forest stands through such techniques as variable density thinning, direct reestablishment of under-represented tree and other plant species, removal of non-native species and elimination of unnecessary and deteriorating forest roads.

Learn more about this forest conservation effort...