Logging project continues at Trillium Community Forest

Selective logging at Trillium Community Forest will continue through the end of February, officials with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust announced this week.

Work to thin about 60 acres of the central section of the 654-acre forest is expected to wrap up by

Feb. 29, and officials said the logging will focus on removing unhealthy stands of young Douglas fir trees.

Pat Powell, executive director of the land trust, said the six-week-long effort is being managed by Janicki Logging Company of Sedro-Woolley, a logging contractor that has a record of successful ecological restoration projects in Washington.

The logging operation is the first since the forest, located between Freeland and Greenbank, was purchased in late 2010 through a community fundraising effort. Officials said the forest has not been properly managed since the last commercial timber harvest in 1990.

Powell said Mike Janicki, president of Janicki Logging Co., is known for his work on the Washington board of the Nature Conservancy. Janicki was interested in the Trillium project, and the board for the land trust and the Trillium steering committee visited the site of a forestry restoration project that the company was managing in Whatcom County to see its work first-hand.

The company uses specialized equipment that reduces impacts on soil and vegetation, which speeds the recovery of the forest after the logging.

“Everyone was very impressed,” Powell said.

The logging at the Trillium forest will remove small trees in an overcrowded area of the property. Once the area is thinned, officials said, habitat for animals and growing conditions for the remaining trees will be improved.

Powell said no trees thicker than 20 inches at chest height will be removed.

The property will remain open during the logging, but trails in the immediate vicinity of the thinning area will be closed.

The logging is being done without cost to the land trust, Powell said, and the nonprofit may see some revenues from the logging, depending on the value of the timber that’s removed.

“Usually with restoration, almost always you have to pay them to do it,” Powell said. “But they are doing it so that there is no cost to us, and we might have some proceeds depending on the sale price at the mill.”

The land trust has done extensive public outreach to educate people about the logging operation.

Donors who contributed to saving the forest were notified a couple of weeks ago, Powell said, and the project was also highlighted in the nonprofit’s last newsletter. Representatives from Whidbey Audubon, the Whidbey Environmental Action Network and natural resource experts were also invited to the site. Powell said the thinning project was also reviewed by the forest’s steering committee, and focus groups were also used.

“They were all pretty much in favor of it,” she said.

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