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It’s only a legacy if you leave it

Photo by Center for Responsible Forestry

In the Natural Climate Solutions provisions of the WA Climate Commitment Act, Washington legislators for the first time affirmed the carbon storage benefits of lowland forests, acknowledging that Legacy Forests are critical to the health and wellbeing of the broader ecosystem.

Yet mature forests in Western Washington are rapidly disappearing on state forest lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Center for Responsible Forestry (CRF) advocates for the creation of a new mature forest conservation policy on state forest lands. CFR is compiling a series of reports that outline conservation priorities and initiatives aimed at protecting critical ecosystems in Washington counties, including Thurston County. Thurston County is a leader in the effort to protect critical ecosystems, calling for an immediate end to logging of mature forests in this County.

CRF has compiled information for many upcoming sales containing mature structurally complex forests in Thurston County. The goal of the reports is to inform the people what is at stake and why it is necessary to mobilize together to protect these forests — with their lovely names.

The three sales shown below contain old-growth trees and are CFR’s highest priority for conservation here. The group recommends a thorough old-growth assessment from DNR for all three of these sales. Photos, criteria and maps for these and all other Thurston County projected sales are available to the public via Google Drive.

Threatened stands: Starwagon

Decision date: 8/13/2024

Size: 210 acres, all mature forest with notable large trees in unit 1

Spread across a wide area between Summit Lake and Eld Inlet, Unit 6 is only two miles from the city of Olympia. Out of all the Capitol State Forest sales we’ve surveyed, this is the one we’re most concerned about. The trees here are modeled by DNR to be between 84 and 106 years old, but we believe many of them are much older. Unit 1 contains Western Red Cedars up to 67” and Douglas Firs up to 85” in diameter. Units 2, 5 and 6 of this sale border residential neighborhoods, and unit 2 is right behind the Summit Lake grocery store.


Decision date: 11/12/24

Size: 206 acres, all mature forest with notable large trees in unit 3

The “Chai” timber sale contains some of the most pristine old-growth trees remaining in Capitol Forest. We found Douglas Firs up to 77” in and Western Red Cedars up to 72” in diameter. This sale is entirely mature forest with a healthy understory and is just uphill from a very popular recreation area, the Grays Harbor ORV park. Units 2 and 3 of the sale are in Thurston County, and unit 1 is in Grays Harbor County. The trees in this area are modeled by the DNR to be between 61 and 118 years old, with some Cedars much older than that.


Decision date: 1/1/2026

Size: 182 acres, all mature forest

The Bears unit 2 is a stand of beautiful, mature trees just 20 minutes from downtown Olympia, right across McLane Creek from the popular McLane Nature Trail. McLane Creek has salmon in it, and it’s a popular place to go to see them spawning in the Fall. If approved, this clearcut could have significant negative impacts on salmon habitat and on recreation. The trees in this area are modeled by DNR to be between 75 and 100 years old, but many of them are much older.

Email the Center for Responsible Forestry for more information, ways to get involved or to donate.

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