Blog

Jan 05 2012

A Deck Cut from Paradise

By KC

From The Oregonian, October 30, 2011
Blog post by Chris Wille, aka EcoBeavers

Here's a link to the original post.

Our search for sustainably harvested wood for our Beavercreek eco-home has led us to some wild and inspiring stories. Here's one...

The Nature Conservancy, a smart, nonprofit, ecosystem-saving organization, owns and manages the 7,600-acre Ellsworth Creek Preserve in Washington. The preserve connects to the equal-size Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, home to seabirds such as brown pelicans, the marbled murrelet, wintering Pacific brant, head-bobbing shorebirds that poke for food in the mudflats, and countless critters that live in the rich mosaic of salt- and freshwater marshes.

Nearly pristine Willapa Bay is world famous for oysters and runs with chum, chinook and coho headed up-creek to spawn. The combined protected areas host bear, elk, cougar, flying squirrels, bats and their wild associates. Bald eagles patrol the skies; Pacific tree frogs chirp in the underbrush.

As The Nature Conservancy (TNC) says, Ellsworth Creek is all about "thinking big." All but 300 acres of the preserve have been logged over, high-graded, degraded and abused. TNC has developed a restoration plan, thinking long-term and letting nature do much of the regrowing and repair. Over the next century, loggers under TNC's direction will carefully thin parts of this coastal rainforest, extract any non-native trees and restore the forest's natural productivity and diversity.

The wood that has been thinned from the preserve is sold to discerning brokers such as Sustainable Northwest Wood -- and the profits provide revenue for the restoration work. Streams are being rehabilitated, and the patches of old growth are safeguarded. Some trees are centuries old, already towering adults before any Europeans passed through the area.

The preserve's recovery and management plan has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). By following the FSC guidelines, managers can take commercial quantities of wood from a forest without compromising its ecological integrity. In fact, TNC is showing that commercial logging can even help restore a forest.

Biologist Tom Kollasch, Willapa Program Director for TNC, hopes that the project will provide a blueprint that can be used to restore other forests around the world, and in this article explains how selectively logging trees in old-growth forests can actually help revive marbled murrelets, a threatened seabird.

TNC is no stranger to radical restorations and has used logging, fire, cattle and other blunt instruments to recover ecosystems across the country. Ellsworth Creek is the first TNC holding in the West to earn FSC certification.

We're delighted to be among the first buyers of the certified wood from the preserve. It's beautiful cedar and carries a motivating tale of successful conservation. We love standing on our cedar deck and thinking of its connection to marbled murrelets, cougars and elk.