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Friends of Island Center Forest meeting includes presentation on King County’s plans to thin Douglas fir, red alder stands

Selective thinning of young Douglas fir trees and harvesting a stand of mature red alder in Vashon Island’s Island Center Forest (ICF) will help improve overall forest health and also provide income for additional land-management activities on the 363-acre forest.

King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks staff and the Vashon Forest Stewards will share information on these proposed forest-management activities at the Nov. 15 Friends of Island Center Forest meeting, set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Land Trust Building, 10014 S.W. Bank Rd., Vashon.

King County is planning to thin 60 acres of 25-year-old Douglas fir plantation. This stand is very uniform, has little species or structural diversity, and has low habitat value.

A second 33-acre stand comprised of primarily dead and dying 70-year-old red alder will be harvested from the forest. This harvest will remove most of the merchantable alder, while alder snags and trees with little or no value will be left standing for habitat.

Proceeds from the sale of the harvested timber will be invested in stewardship activities at ICF, including planting more native tree species by local youth crews.

The last commercial thinning/harvest project at ICF was in 2007.

The Friends of Island Center Forest includes representatives from the Vashon Land Trust, Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon Audubon, Vashon Equestrians and other community members.

King County coordinated with the group to develop a long-term site and forest management plan in 2006, including commercial thinning and small-scale tree harvests. Community forest grants have supported the Vashon Forest Stewards and their work with local students to replant the harvest sites and remove invasive vegetation.

In 2009, King County was awarded the highest level of green certification possible for the way it manages Island Center Forest, a 363-acre expanse that shelters the headwaters of Vashon’s largest salmon-bearing stream and provides miles of recreational trails.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the nation’s most demanding forest-certification program, has labeled the publicly owned landscape a sustainably managed forest. The certification means trees harvested from the forest can carry the FSC label, a voluntary, market-based system similar to organic certification for farmers or food processors.

A certified forest is sustainably managed to meet or exceed existing regulations so that environmental, social, and economic factors are balanced to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the forest to meet future generation’s needs.

King County owns and manages more than 26,000 acres of parks and open space, including six working forest sites totaling more than 3,200 acres. In addition, the county’s Natural Resource Lands Program manages easements on roughly 150,000 acres of privately owned forests and agricultural lands. The easements remove development rights from privately owned lands to ensure that they remain as working forests and farms in the long term.

More information is available at