Big River And Salmon Creek Forests
Big River Forest. Photo by The Conservation Fund.
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 implemented sustainable forest management practices that include decreasing the intensity of harvests, increasing the time between harvests and widening riverfront buffers to improve water quality in streams impaired by erosion resulting from a century of timber harvesting. These practices are resulting in the improvement of water quality and habitat for coho salmon, steelhead trout and spotted owl.
Why Do We Manage These Forests?
Although Northern California’s coastal forests have long supported abundant wildlife and a thriving economy—nearly 40 percent of the value of all timber harvested in California comes from privately owned forests in Humboldt and Mendocino counties—many of California’s forest-based communities are at a crossroads.
The large commercial timber companies have been divesting their forestlands. Some of that land has been fragmented into small holdings for single-family homes or weekend getaways. Most acreage has been sold to timber investment or real estate investment companies, whose harvest practices are often geared toward short-term profit as opposed to the long-term sustainable management typically employed by commercial forest products companies. Because of the number of large properties on the market and the competition from the private sector, conservationists are struggling to finance forestland acquisitions to protect the most sensitive natural areas, such as those within Big River and Salmon Creek.
We developed an innovative funding partnership, attracting a $25 million loan from California’s State Revolving Fund (SRF), the largest loan of its kind in U.S. history. SRF is a low-interest loan program established under the Clean Water Act to fund water quality projects. While the program traditionally has been tapped to pay for construction of publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities and related infrastructure, SRF loans can be used to address non-point source pollution issues, including those related to silviculture, or forest management. In addition to the $25 million SRF loan, the Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board each gave grants of $7.25 million. The ACE Group and Centex—through the ACE Land Legacy Fund and the Centex Land Legacy Fund—provided private support; both are being used to support our top conservation priorities.
To help support the cost of the acquisition and long-term forest restoration efforts, we aim to raise an additional $7.5 million from private philanthropic sources.