A community forest is there for the community. Each is as unique as the people that help create it, but all provide benefits that are passed on for generations to come.
What is a community forest?
A community forest empowers local residents to control decisions about forest management and use, and to derive benefits from both. Every community forest has unique circumstances and objectives, established by locals.
Who Owns the Land?
The underlying ownership can be public, private, or both. Local city or county governments, land trusts, non-profit organizations, public development authorities, state agencies, and land ownership cooperatives are just some of the potential ownership models.
Core Components of a Community Forest
Community forests are unique in how they are formed and managed, but they all are:
Guided by the needs and wants of the local community
Owned and managed by or on behalf of a community
Governed in a way that ensures collaboration and community participation in management decisions
Managed to balance forest health products, recreation, and community well-being
Permanently protected from conversion to development.
Hundreds of community forests exist all across the United States from Maine to California to Texas. They can range in size from a couple to tens of thousands of acres.
What are the benefits?
There are so many benefits to a community forest. Below are some that we believe will be seen in Kittitas County:
Forest health and resiliency through restoration and prescribed fire
Enhanced diverse recreation opportunities
Local economic growth through forest products and outdoor recreation
Clean water supplies benefiting local and downstream communities
Healthy fish and wildlife habitat
Education for local youth, community members and those coming to explore
Connecting with underserved communities to address access needs
Preservation of culture and traditional sustainable uses
How will the lands and ongoing management be paid for?
The lands will initially be acquired using funding from grants, fundraising, and other sources. A certain portion of that funding may be set aside for future management of the forest. In addition, there may be other opportunities to generate revenue through forest products, recreation, etc.
Are there other community forests?
Hundreds of community forests exist across our country! Here are a few we've explored: