Vashon forest Stewards has assisted several government and other public agencies with forestry projects over the last dozen years. Listed below are some of the highlights starting with the most recent...
Vashon Island School District Forest Project
In 2012, VFS supervised an ecological thinning of the Vashon Island School District Forest following recommendations in a School District Forest Stewardship Plan. The plan had been written three years earlier under a King County grant VFS obtained for involving Vashon High School students with Puget Sound forests. The major concerns in the plan were hazard trees (mostly spindly madrone trees overhanging school trails), laminated root-rot pockets in the Douglas-fir stands, overly-mature declining red alder and areas with high concentrations of invasives (mostly English holly) . So the priorities were forest safety, forest health, and forest aesthetics.
As the Vashon Island School District geared up to build a new high school it was decided that some of the wood used in the new school construction should come from the school’s own forest. VFS supervised the forestry operation working with TimberTec to carry out the thinning in August and early September, 2012. TimberTec uses specialized forestry machines (processors and forwarders) that cut and process logs, then carry – not skid – them out of the woods. This process tends to provide the least impact possible (LIP) to the forest ecology.
The operation yielded about 35,000 board feet (about ten log truck loads) of Douglas-fir of which the best quality 15,000 board feet stayed on the island to be used in the school (mostly as wainscot in the school hallways) with the remainder being sold to off-island mills to help pay for the operation. In addition to the fir, about 5,000 board feet of red alder was thinned; most of which was used as wainscot in the new school theater. Approximately 200 tons of small diameter madrone was also removed; most of which was sold as firewood, though several hundred board feet were processed into flooring for one of the student conference rooms.
During the fall and winter of 2012/2013 logs left on island were milled into rough-cut green lumber at both the Vashon Forest Stewards mill and Tom Harrigan’s Vashon Sawmill Services yard. That lumber was then stickered and left to air-dry for several months. Afterwards the raw lumber was kiln dried and processed into wainscot paneling, flooring, table tops and railings during the spring and summer of 2013. It was installed into the new building during the late summer and fall of 2013, which opened for students in January 2014.
Immediately following the thinning operation VFS began to restore and enhance the school forest trail system with high school students. This high school youth corps also built two outdoor classrooms that now provide elementary school students a greater opportunity to enjoy and learn about the forest environment. The high school students (along with some elementary school students) planted over a thousand young tree seedlings and native plants in areas that had been thinning. And then for the remainder of the school year the youth corps removed invasive species that had dominated certain areas of the school forest for years. That work continues…
All in all a nearly perfect project for Vashon Forest Stewards; helping steward a forest towards a safer, healthier, more aesthetic state, while utilizing the thinned wood for the enhancement of an important local institution, one that has a significant impact on most of our island youth.
Island Center Forest and Paradise Ridge Park Forestry Projects
VFS oversees large and small forest stewardship activities, working with both "on-island" and off-island" contractors, depending on the scale of the job. In late 2007, VFS oversaw ecological thinning projects in both the Island Center Forest, a 363-acre forest owned by King County, and Paradise Ridge Park, a smaller community park owned by the Vashon Park District. Both projects removed mature alder and thinned overcrowded stands of Douglas-fir. These forestry projects generated revenue which the owners are using for stewardship activities including planting more varieties of native species and improving tails.
Forestry operators with specailized equipment were brought onto the island to help protect the environment and maximize efficiency. More than a dozen private landowers have taken advantage of this opportunity to thin their own forests. These small acreage forest owners normally could not afford to hire these operators because of the cost of mobilizing their specialized equipment onto the island. But working together as a network of forest owners, both public and private, has made it possible to afford good stewardship.
Agren Park Forest Stewardship Project
In 2004 VFS planned and managed the ecological thinning of Agren Park, a 30-acre Vashon public park. This was the first forest management project of its type in a public park in King County. Vashon Forest Stewards wrote a forest stewardship plan and developed a silvicultural prescription with the advise of Dr. Jerry Franklin, Dr. Andrew Carey and Dr. Dean Berg, all renowned in the field. VFS also supervised the daily activities of the logging contractor. Over 50 loads of red alder and Douglas-fir were thinned in a low-impact operation that benefited the wildlife habitat, forest health and the Park's aesthetics. The operation netted the Park District $45,000 - enough to remove invasive weeds from the park, plant thousands of native seedlings, expand the trail system, and still bank more than $15,000, to ensure that monitoring and stewardship activities would continue into the foreseeable future.
Agren Park has become a model forest for visitors from around the Puget Sound Region and across the United States that demonstrates and promotes the type of environmentally sensitive forestry that enhances forests rather than degrading them.