Forest Health Program Targets Aid to Okanogan & Ferry County Landowners

mountain pine bark beetle damage
Ponderosa pine damaged by mountain pine bark beetle. Photo: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

A pilot project by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gives landowners in the Kettle and Sanpoil watersheds in Okanogan and Ferry counties more options to improve the health of their forestlands.

DNR’s Kettle/Sanpoil Forest Restoration Project targets marginally commercial forest stands and provides owners with an incentive payment to apply forest restoration treatments. Landowners must have a forest stewardship plan for their forest to participate but the project also provides cost-share funding to help those landowners develop forest stewardship plans.

Forest landowners who implement the restoration prescriptions in the targeted forest types are eligible to receive an incentive payment ranging from $100 to $200 per acre. The prescriptions include thinning to reduce tree density and changing tree species composition to favor pine and larch.

Forests in Okanogan and Ferry counties are experiencing elevated levels of damage from western spruce budworm and pine bark beetles. Over the last 100 years, fire suppression and harvesting practices have reduced the amount of pine and larch trees while increased the amount and density of Douglas-fir and true fir trees. The result is dense, unhealthy forests that are susceptible to insects, diseases and severe wildfire.

For the 2013-2015 biennium, the Washington State Legislature appropriated more than $1 million for forest hazard reduction funding for private landowners in the Forest Health Hazard Warning Area in Okanogan and Ferry counties. This funding is administered by DNR.

The funds are an investment by the state to help landowners cover a portion of the cost, up to 50 percent, for practices such as thinning, slash disposal and pruning that improve forest health by reducing tree density and reduce wildfire risk by removing fuels.

For more information on the Kettle/Sanpoil Forest Restoration Project, contact:

Steve Harris, DNR Landowner Assistance Manager, Colville, at 509-684-7474, or steven.harris@dnr.wa.gov  or Chuck Hersey, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Olympia, at 360-902-1045; or chuck.hersey@dnr.wa.gov

Forest landowners may apply for cost-share assistance online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dnrcostshare

Learn more about the Forest Health Hazard Warning for portions of Okanogan and Ferry counties.