Redwood trees in Big River Forest/Photo by Matthew Gerhart

At A Glance

  • Two-thirds of Americans get their drinking water from forests.
  • The forest industry ranks among the top 10 employers in 42 states.
  • More than half of America's forests are privately owned and at risk of being sold.

America’s forests are at risk. Investment groups, companies and individuals privately own more than half our forestland, and it’s being carved up into smaller and more haphazard parcels all the time. Over the next 20 years, according to the U.S. Forest Service, as many as 26 million acres of America’s forests will go up for sale. 

When forests shrink or disappear, we lose the major benefits they provide—benefits you might not even realize.

Why Forests Matter

In addition to being home to wildlife, birds and plants, forests help provide clean drinking water by absorbing and filtering rain and snow into nearby streams. Forests improve our climate, by absorbing pollutants that contribute to climate change. As forests become fragmented, their ability to filter our water and air is compromised and there is less space for wildlife to live and migrate. 

Forests also benefit our economy, as well as our environment. The forest products industry is bigger than the U.S. auto industry, producing about $175 billion in goods annually and employing an estimated 900,000 people, according to the Forest Service. 

What We’re Doing

Across more than 250 projects, we’ve helped protect roughly two million acres of forestland nationwide. Our work includes Oregon’s first state forest in half a century, Minnesota’s largest conservation project ever, and dozens of community forests, historic sites, and wilderness areas. We also sustainably manage select forestland. Our goal is to swiftly save at-risk lands, coordinate long-term conservation ownership and show that nonprofits can return forests to ecological and economic viability through sustainable management.

North Coast Forest Conservation Initiative In California 

We currently manage more than 50,000 acres of redwood forests on California’s North Coast. Our management is successfully restoring habitat for local wildlife and generating revenue through timber harvest and the sale of carbon offsets.  

Working Forest Fund 

Our Working Forest Fund is a dedicated source of conservation bridge capital that allows us to acquire and sustainably manage working forests with high conservation value. After saving the land from inappropriate development, we work with conservation partners to permanently protect it. 

Go Zero®

Go Zero makes it simple for individuals and companies to measure their carbon dioxide emissions and then offset the remainder by planting trees in protected national wildlife refuges across the nation. To date, we’ve planted more than two million trees thanks to Go Zero donors. 


Face Of This Place: Brian Dangler, Director of The Working Forest Fund brian dangler 390x260

Working Forest Fund Director Brian Dangler is a Certified Forester and an expert in forestland acquisition, management and finance, with more than 25 years of experience. Brian has worked at the Fund since 2008.  How did you choose a career… Read More

Coastal Headwaters Forest – Longleaf Conservation and Restoration Longleafpine_CoastalHeadwaters_390x260

Longleaf pine once covered 90 million acres from southeastern Virginia to Florida, and west through Louisiana to east Texas.  Today, these trees cover less than three percent of their original habitat, which is now largely confined to public lands. Known for… Read More

Caribou-Targhee National Forest Caribou-Targhee National Forest_LukeLynch

From peaks towering more than 10,000 feet in the sky to low-lying grasslands and wetlands, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a place of contrast and diversity. Encompassing three million acres that frame the southeastern border of Idaho and reach into… Read More

Minnesota Forest Legacy Partnership Great grey owl

Minnesota’s Forest Legacy Partnership is working with landowners, loggers, outdoor enthusiasts and communities to preserve our forests for timber, jobs, recreation and wildlife habitat. The Partnership has established a multi-million dollar capital fund that will help ensure sustainable forestry, protect… Read More

Buckeye Forest Polaris04491080_(c)_Michael-Macor_390x260

Buckeye Forest (formerly known as Preservation Ranch) is the latest installment in The Conservation Fund’s North Coast Forest Conservation Initiative. In 2013, our Working Forest Fund, with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, enabled the purchase of the nearly 20,000-acre property… Read More

Garcia River Forest Garcia River Forest, Northern California

In 2004, when we purchased the Garcia River Forest, a nearly 24,000-acre expanse of redwood and Douglas fir forests along the Garcia River, we created California’s first large nonprofit-owned working forest. Garcia River Forest comprises one-third of the watershed of… Read More

Big River And Salmon Creek Forests Big River Forest California

Our acquisition of 16,000 acres of redwood and Douglas firs surrounding Big River and Salmon Creek ensures that these forests will be protected permanently from fragmentation, development and conversion to non-forest uses. Sustainable Forest Management Across both forests, we have… Read More

Usal Redwood Forest View of Pacific ocean from Usal Forest

Almost twice the size of San Francisco, the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest, in Mendocino County, is a classic sweep of California coastline. Here, stands of redwood and Douglas fir trees mix with more varied forests, oak woodlands and streams. Beneath… Read More

Gualala River Forest Mouth of the Gualala River

Next door to our Garcia River Forest, the 14,000-acre Gualala River Forest shares its remarkable canopy of redwoods and Douglas firs. Beneath these magnificent trees, the Gualala River courses across the property, providing important spawning habitat for coho salmon and… Read More

Restoring A Forest – And Home For The Coastal Tailed Frog CA-coastal-tailed-frog-Brome-McCreary-390x260

When The Conservation Fund purchased the 24,000-acre Garcia River Forest in the heart of Northern California’s redwood country in 2004, we had something to prove. We wanted to demonstrate that, as one of the nation’s first nonprofit forest owners, we… Read More

Gilchrist State Forest, Oregon Ponderosa pine trees

We’ve saved more than 1.5 million acres of forest across the country. As part of our efforts, we helped establish Gilchrist State Forest, the first addition to Oregon’s state forest system in more than 60 years. In addition to the… Read More

Bobcat Ridge Bobcat Ridge

To save some of America’s best forests before they become shopping malls, vineyards or subdivisions, we deploy our Working Forest Fund, a dedicated source of capital. Our goal is to purchase and manage key forests as working land that’s sustainably… Read More

Upper Mississippi Forest Project Forest in autumn, Minnesota

In July, 2010, we celebrated the largest conservation deal in Minnesota history: We completed a working forest conservation easement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Blandin Paper Company (UPM) that forever protects nearly 188,000 acres of Northwoods forests, wetlands… Read More

Middle Neches Forestland Neches River, Texas

In one of the largest, most complex forestland projects in the Texas history, The Conservation Fund and Renewable Resources, LLC, joined forces to acquire and conserve 33,000 acres of working forestland from International Paper. As a result of a creative,… Read More

DuPont State Forest Fishing at Dupont State Forest

Nestled between the cities of Hendersonville and Brevard, the horseshoe-shaped DuPont State Forest covers 10,400 acres within the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a gem of North Carolina’s outdoors, known for its numerous waterfalls and large pockets of granite cover. This beautiful forestland… Read More

Woodbury And Hamilton Ridge Forestlands Little Pee Dee River

The continued fragmentation of southern forests because of subdivision, land use changes and development is one of the most pressing threats facing the American landscape today. The forests of the southern United States are some of the most biologically diverse in… Read More

Congaree Forest Endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker

Their mission has always been to protect and defend, but now five military installations are watching over something new: a tranquil and towering forest along South Carolina’s Wateree River. In 2009, we joined Fort Jackson, McCrady National Guard Training Center,… Read More

Nemadji River And Douglas County Forest Hiker at Jay Cooke State Park

Back in 2010, the Fund worked with Douglas County to protect nearly 4,000 acres along the Nemadji River, safeguarding habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife and enhancing the quality of local water resources. A six-mile portion of the North… Read More

Oconee National Forest Oconee National Forest

Did you know that forestry is the largest manufacturing sector in Georgia? Forests are a critical part of the state’s economy.  Unfortunately, in recent years across the country, including areas throughout the Southeast,  more than 10 million acres of private forest… Read More

Michaux State Forest Mountain biker in Michaux State Forest

Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest covers more than 85,000 acres and is referred to as the state’s ”cradle of forestry.”  The Fund helped grow Michaux SF to its current size with the purchase and transfer of a 2,500-acre expanse of forest, streams and open fields… Read More

Lackawanna State Forest Lackawanna State Forest

In northeast Pennsylvania, Lackawanna State Forest is a beautiful natural area that shelters wildlife and offers outdoor enthusiasts a colorful place to hike, hunt, fish and paddle. The forest also provides the natural system that cleans the water supply for the… Read More

Glatfelter Forest Glatfelter Forest in Delaware

Today, thousands of acres of privately owned forestland across Delaware are for sale, jeopardizing the state’s unique character and way of life. With so much at stake, protection of key forestland is one of the region’s most important land conservation… Read More

Downeast Maine Maine landscape

Downeast Maine has a one-of-a-kind beauty, with pristine forests, clean waters, and crisp air. In 2012, we did our part to preserve these features, with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Providing funding to the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, we… Read More

The Green In Georgia’s Forests Loblolly pine tree

Clean air. Clean Water. Good jobs. Revenue to support education. Our challenge is balancing these pressing issues to sustain economic growth and quality of life. An often-overlooked piece of this sustainability equation in Georgia is 22 million acres of commercial… Read More

Tongass National Forest Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Though Alaska is a state of great expanse, small places matter. As the critical first project of The Conservation Fund’s Coastal Alaska Initiative, more than 830 acres of rugged Cape Bingham cliffs and 12 miles of pristine coastline are now… Read More

Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Tonto National Forest

Cave Creek, only 25 miles north of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, is one of the few perennial streams in the Upper Sonoran Desert. Cottonwood, willow, sycamore and ash trees as well as bulrushes and cattails grow in this riparian… Read More

Pisgah National Forest Kids at waterfall in Pisgah National Forest

Rushing waterfalls and melodious birdcalls lift the deep quiet of Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains. In 2009, we conserved more than 750 acres within the forest, preserving rare vegetation and expanding hikers’ access to Raquette Creek’s popular trails… Read More

Ashley River Historic District / Middleton Place Woodlands Middleton Place

Located in the fastest growing county in South Carolina, the Ashley River historic district is considered one of the country’s most endangered places. The district’s centuries-old plantations and oaks dressed in Spanish moss represent the unique beauty of the South… Read More

Brule River State Forest Aerial of Brule River

Anyone seeking to escape into the great outdoors can do so in Wisconsin’s Brule River State Forest. This forest contains perhaps the finest trout stream in the state and is a favorite place for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor… Read More

Green Mountain National Forest View of Green Mountains in Vermont

The Green Mountain National Forest is one of only two national forests in the Northeast. The Fund has helped add more than 2,000 acres to the forest, which stretches across southwestern into central Vermont. This large area of public land not only offers the public a… Read More

Ouachita National Forest View of Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma

The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres across Oklahoma and Arkansas. This beautiful forest has mountains, lakes, rivers and trails open to the public for exploration and recreational activities such as hiking, camping, biking, hunting and fishing. This forest is also the location of what is… Read More

Northern Forestlands Fall foliage colors the mountains of New Hampshire

Did you know that more than half of the forestland in the United States is privately owned and therefore at risk of being fragmented and sold into smaller parcels? In fact, it’s estimated that the U.S. loses more than 30 million… Read More


Evan Smith, Vice President Conservation Ventures
Evan Smith Portland, OR 97227
(503) 407-0301

Conservation Ventures Vice President Evan Smith oversees our sustainable forestry and small business lending programs. Since joining The Conservation Fund in 1995, Evan has played a key role in acquiring, restoring, and managing working forests across the country. He leads our efforts to use the power of markets and business to advance conservation.