Partnership Provides Jefferson Land Trust Five-Year Window to Protect Chimacum Landmark
CHIMACUM — Jefferson Land Trust announces the successful completion of the first phase in a collaborative venture to conserve a central and defining feature of the Chimacum landscape. Chimacum Ridge is the highly-visible forested ridge located between Center and Beaver Valleys, right in sight of the Chimacum Crossroads. After years of work, Jefferson Land Trust, Ecotrust Forest Management, Rayonier, and The Trust for Public Land have put a partnership in place that will enable the 850-acre property to be protected from development.
“This project shows how innovative and collaborative partnerships can deliver outstanding results. In size, scope, and impact, this is the land trust’s largest project to-date, and it’s an important step in the work to conserve large working forests in our region,” said Richard Tucker, Jefferson Land Trust’s executive director.
In a process facilitated by The Trust for Public Land, Ecotrust Forest Management acquired the Chimacum Ridge property and is holding the land as a bridge owner for five years, allowing Jefferson Land Trust time to determine the take-out plan and final ownership structure of the property.
We are excited to be working together with partners to create a model of community forestry that generates high-quality timber for local and regional uses, creates job and entrepreneurial opportunities, provides recreation and scenic beauty, and enhances habitat for fish and wildlife.” said Bettina von Hagen, CEO, Ecotrust Forest Management
“Ecotrust Forest Management’s role in phase one of this project is critical, buying the time for the Land Trust to realize our long-term vision for this important property, allowing Jefferson Land Trust to explore innovative ownership and management models and secure long-term financing. This will likely include a combination of grants and community funding.” said Tucker.
Completion of phase one of this project puts the Chimacum Ridge property on track to be managed as a community forest. In a community forest model, forestland is managed to provide multiple benefits: recreational trails, timber revenue through sustainable harvest techniques that retain a standing mature forest, and the wildlife habitat and contributions to clean air and water quality that forests provide.
Chimacum Ridge has been managed for timber production for decades, and has been owned by timber company Rayonier since 2006. Although Rayonier had other opportunities to sell the land they were supportive of a process that allowed the conservation of this tract.
“We are proud to partner with Jefferson Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, and Ecotrust Forest Management to conserve this iconic ridge overlooking the Chimacum Valley,” said David Nunes, President and CEO of Rayonier. “I also want to thank our foresters for their hard work and dedicated stewardship of this special property over the past decade. Conserving Chimacum Ridge as a working forest is an important reminder of the long-term viability of the forest products industry and the role it plays in the economy and lifestyle of this region.”
Privately-owned working forests, managed for timber production, comprise over 200,000 acres in Jefferson County. Jefferson Land Trust’s Conservation Plan, published in 2010, identifies conservation of large tracts of East Jefferson County working forest as a priority, including Chimacum Ridge, and notes that the conversion of working forests to rural sprawl-type development is the principal threat to a viable working forest economy.
“Chimacum Ridge borders a bustling rural center that is growing and changing, and as a community we have opportunities to influence what direction change will take. Chimacum’s vibrant local farm and food renaissance is a testament to this.” said Sarah Spaeth, Jefferson Land Trust’s director of conservation and strategic partnerships. “What about a local wood movement, akin to the local food movement that has garnered such support and had such great effects on our rural communities? What about the idea of locally-operated mills selling to a local market? Working forests are an essential part of our landscape, culture, and economy. Local wood can be as powerful as local food.”
Chimacum Ridge is directly connected to other conservation efforts in the area. The property filters water to 19 tributaries that feed salmon streams including both branches of Chimacum Creek, a local focus of extensive salmon habitat restoration, in which the land trust has played an active role The land is also adjacent to a number of Jefferson Land Trust’s working farm and forest protection projects, representing nearly 2000 contiguous acres of preserved working farms, forests, and salmon streams.
“Our mission is land for people and this is an excellent example of that, it will make a remarkable and productive community forest,” said Richard Corff, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “This success is because of a terrific partnership involving us, Jefferson Land Trust, Ecotrust Forest Management and Rayonier Timber Resources.”
It’s been a long time in the making, and we’re not done with the work yet,” said Spaeth. “But it’s so gratifying to know that in the long run we will always see Chimacum Ridge stay a forest. Especially at night, I think of the Ridge as sleeping giant–this great, massive behemoth that anchors the Chimacum valleys. It inspires me to think long into the future: at night the giant will remain dark. We won’t ever see lights along that ridgetop, and we’ll know it will forever remain forested and dark.”
Erik Kingfisher of Port Townsend, Jefferson Land Trust’s stewardship director, looks out from atop Chimacum Ridge over the rich, historic farmland of Chimacum’s Center Valley. Photo-credit Caitlin Battersby
Chimacum Ridge consists of most of the upland forest between Center and Beaver Valleys. The 850-acre property begins just south of the Chimacum crossroads and extends for approximately two and a quarter miles between Center and Beaver Valleys.
About the Collaborators
Jefferson Land Trust is an accredited land trust, a private 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving Jefferson County on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Engaging stakeholders across the county to develop a long-term “100-year” community vision for the future resulted in a conservation plan, published in 2010, which identifies the importance of habitat corridors, water quality, working farms, and working forests to balance the ecological, social, and economic needs of our region. Since its incorporation in 1989, Jefferson Land Trust has helped the community permanently protect over 12,000 acres of the most iconic, productive, and ecologically significant land and water of Jefferson County. It works to recover salmon streams, sustain vast working forests and farms, and protect ancient habitats and urban open space. Jefferson Land Trust has earned regional recognition for innovative conservation approaches and successes over the years, and continues to attract an active and growing base of community, business, and conservation supporters
Ecotrust Forest Management is a forestland investment management company with 30,000 acres under management in Oregon and Washington through two private equity funds. Its strategy is to acquire ecologically and socially significant forests and to manage them for long-term value and for the full array of products and services produced by forests � timber, non-timber, carbon, habitat, recreation, scenic values, and job and enterprise creation. It acquires properties on behalf of investors both for long-term ownership and for transition to permanent conservation-oriented owners such as land trusts, tribes, municipalities, state and federal agencies, and private entities. EFM is a FSC-certified forestland manager (fsc.org), a “Best for the World” B-Corporation (bcorporation.net), and an ImpactAssets top 50 Fund Manager (impactassets.org).
Rayonier is a leading timberland real estate investment trust with assets located in some of the most productive softwood timber growing regions in the United States and New Zealand. Rayonier owns, leases or manages approximately 2.7 million acres of timberlands located in the U.S. South, U.S. Pacific Northwest and New Zealand. To date, Rayonier has joined with conservation experts to ensure more than 200,000 acres of forestland will remain in conservation for future generations. More information is available at rayonier.com.
The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit organization. Its mission is to create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Through its Land and Water Initiative, The Trust for Public Land seeks to protect land for working forest, outdoor recreation, and preservation of water resources.