top of page
Forest2Sea-McGee-SaltnPepper-DJI_0080 (2)_edited.jpg
Line separator

Older State Forests:
Our Best Carbon Workhorses

Older State Forests:
on the chopping block

Washington holds one of the world’s most powerful climate tools right here in our state-owned forests: 77,000 acres of older, diverse, carbon-dense forests, many close to a hundred years old. These older, structurally complex forests are among the very best in the world at carbon storage and sequestration. 

These state lands are managed by the Department of Natural Resources on our behalf. We ask the Legislature to:

  1. Immediately protect our most carbon-dense, structurally complex public forests

  2. Have the state invest in purchasing replacement lands. These are younger forests in which we can implement climate-smart forest management to produce timber while also sequestering more carbon. This maintains rural jobs and a long-term timber supply.  

Climate Commitment Act
This Act calls for us to reduce Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. Simply by NOT cutting down these older, carbon dense forests, we avoid emitting over 31 million metric tons of Carbon - that’s more than half of our 2030 target! These investments in Washington’s older forests fit multiple goals: carbon sequestration, forest health, working lands protected from conversion, and resilience to climate change impacts like wildfire, flooding, water shortage, and biodiversity loss. 

Despite the climate impacts, these older forests are on the chopping block.
If we don’t act, these 77,000 acres of older forests will be clearcut. Roughly 4,000 acres are scheduled to be logged this year alone. That takes us in the wrong direction for climate. 

Our Coalition:
action in 2023

This campaign is led by a steering committee of scientists and forest policy experts from across Washington State. 

We are a coalition of organizations working together to protect Washington's older state forests, including: 

CNW_Logo_highres-fullcolor (1) copy.png



"WA auctions off more ‘old’ forest in $2.8 million sale” — The Seattle Times, 2/23/23

“What If We Can Have Our Cake and Eat It Too?” — Conservation Northwest, 12/2/22

Amid Climate Crisis a Proposal to Save WA State Forests for Carbon Storage not Logging” - The Seattle Times, 3/21/2021

Save Washington’s Legacy Forests to Save Ourselves” - The Seattle Times, 4/13/2022

Older State Forests:
the truth

Legacy Forests are Carbon Workhorses
These are forests that naturally regenerated after logging or fire about a hundred years ago. The trees are a mix of species and are high in biodiversity. They also sequester and store far more carbon per year than younger “working forests.” The timber industry often points to sloppy science on this topic that ignores the immense volumes of carbon that older forests store in the soil, instead only focusing on the carbon in the wood aboveground. But we see the whole picture.


Working forests are disease- and fire-prone, but they do produce timber.
“Working forests” are traditionally industrially managed, single-species tree farms designed to produce 2x4s and plywood. Tree farms are fire- and disease-prone because they lack resiliency. Resiliency comes from diversity, both in terms of species and age, and is often much greater in forests that have grown back on their own, rather than being planted. 

bottom of page