This week four leaders of a new Community Forest initiative in Washington State traveled to Maine to visit with the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and tour the Farm Cove Community Forest.
Joe Kane, the Executive Director of the Nisqually Land Trust, attended a 2010 presentation on Community Forests by Mark Berry, Executive Director of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, and “came away so inspired that we launched the Nisqually Community Forest Project just a few months later, in partnership with Mount Rainier National Park and the Nisqually Indian Tribe”.
The Nisqually River runs 78 miles from the slopes of Mount Rainier to Puget Sound, and the Nisqually Land Trust has worked for 25 years to permanently protect the water, wildlife, natural areas, and scenic vistas of the Nisqually River watershed, an area with rapid population growth.
With tens of thousands of acres of commercial timberlands in the watershed owned by distant investors, the concept of a community forest managed for the benefit of local people was very appealing. After completing an initial conceptual plan for a Nisqually Community Forest, Joe and other members of the planning team wanted to get an in depth understanding of the experience Downeast Lakes Land Trust has with establishing a Community Forest.
Joining Kane on the trip to Maine were Justin Hall, executive director of the Nisqually River Foundation, Kirk Hanson, Director of the Northwest Certified Forestry program for the Northwest Natural Resources Group, and Paula Swedeen, a consultant representing the Washington Environmental Council.
The group spent two days in Grand Lake Stream touring the Farm Cove Community Forest and meeting with Board members and staff of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust. Spectacular fall weather and colorful foliage greeted the group as they toured the forests and West Grand Lake.
“We’re happy to share our experiences with others seeking to conserve the forests that are important to their communities,” said Berry, “We also learn from our visitors.” Berry noted that the trust is honored that groups from as far away as Washington choose to travel to Grand Lake Stream to gain insights into community forest conservation.
“Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s accomplishments are remarkable,” said Kane, “We are returning home with new ideas and new inspiration as a result of our visit.”