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Join forestry experts for a walking tour of Island Center Forest to see how King County is making it more resilient to climate impacts

Summary

Vashon and Maury island residents are invited to join a King County forester on Aug. 27 for a hike in the Island Center Forest to see how the county will make the 448-acre forest more resilient to climate impacts.

Story

King County is organizing a walking tour of Island Center Forest on Aug. 27 where Vashon and Maury island residents can learn about its plan to build a healthier forest that is more resilient to climate impacts. 

King County crews in 2023 will selectively harvest overcrowded Douglas fir trees and dying red alder trees from selected portions of the 448-forest on Vashon Island, followed by extensive tree planting in those areas.

The tour, which will be led by County forester Paul Fischer, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Mukai/115th Avenue Southwest Trailhead, accessed via Southwest Bank Road. After a brief presentation at the trailhead, the tour will take participants to the proposed thinning areas. The walk will be 1½ to 2 miles with opportunities to return to the trailhead along the way.

Up to 46 acres of dense Douglas fir forest are under consideration for selective thinning. An additional 5 acres are proposed for drop-and-leave canopy opening treatments in declining red alder forests, with the objective of re-establishing conifer and mixed broadleaf tree forests in those areas. The work is expected to occur in summer 2023 and take about four weeks.

While the trees in the designated thinning areas are between 70 and 100 years old, their crowded condition has left these portions of the forest undersized and overstocked. Tall, skinny trees with small crowns are the norm in these areas.

Selectively thinning trees implements recommendations from the site’s 2017 Forest Stewardship Plan update and alleviates stressful conditions of limited light and water to promote the largest and healthiest trees.

These forest stewardship actions also promote plant diversity by increasing light in the understory and enhances the forest’s value as fish and wildlife habitat. Planting a diverse selection of native trees will take place in open areas within these units, helping scrub the air and store carbon – an essential component of King County’s efforts to improve long-term climate resilience.

This work builds on previous projects in 2008 and 2014 to improve the health of portions of the forest that are overstocked with Douglas fir trees and suffering from loss of forest canopy due to red alder decline and root rot.

The planned selective thinning will require temporary trail closures on portions of the 115th Bypass Trail, Landtrust Trail, 188th Trail, Fir Hill Trail, and possibly others.

Island Center Forest is certified as a sustainably managed forest by the Forest Stewardship Council, the nation’s most demanding forest-certification program. The certification means trees harvested from the forest can carry the FSC label, a voluntary, market-based system similar to organic certification for farmers or food processors.

Island Center Forest is one of the most popular outdoor recreation sites on Vashon-Maury Island and features more than 10 miles of trails for hiking and running, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.

For more information about the project and forest walk, contact King County’s forester, Paul Fischer, via email or call 206-817-8259 or 206-477-3732.


Relevant links


For more information, contact:

Paul Fischer, King County Forester, 206-477-4530