Building on decades of grassroots efforts led by the Downslope Neighbors Association and years of public engagement and education for Community Watershed Planning in the South Fork, the idea of creating a Community Forest had been a long-time dream.
Then in 2021, an opportunity emerged to purchase 5500 acres of forestland on Stewart Mountain. A gathering was held at the base of Stewart Mountain, and a Core Planning Team was formed – with representatives from the Nooksack Indian Tribe, Evergreen Land Trust, Whatcom County, and Whatcom Land Trust. The Team decided to apply for technical assistance from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (NPS-RTCA) program to initiate a community forest planning process.
In spring 2022, an Interim Community Advisory Team (I-CAT) composed of people representing the sectors fundamental to this community forest — including forestry, water resources, cultural resources, wildlife habitat, recreation, education, research, youth, and the local community at large — was convened. This group worked to create a shared vision for the community forest, and determine how to conduct public outreach. In the summer of 2022, a community survey was conducted, and a community forum was hosted to gather input for the creation of a Strategic Vision Framework.
The draft Strategic Vision Framework was developed over the fall and winter of 2022-2023 by the Planning Team with the support of NPS Staff, and a released for stakeholder and community review.
Open Houses were then hosted in March of 2023 to gather final feedback, and the final draft was released in May of 2023.
March 29- March 30th Open Houses
August 25, 2022 Community Forum
- A time-lapse aerial photo of the change in the landscape over time, with 6 different companies owning and harvesting within just 30 years (1985-2015)
- Background of the SMCF – 8.25.22 – Presentation
- Checkerboard Community Forest – Nicky Pasi – 8.25.22 Presentation
- Notes from the August 2022 Community Forum