Forest Management Plan
The property is owned by the City and managed by the City’s Environmental Services Department. A volunteer Forest Management Committee advises staff and the City Council on forest policy matters. The Committee consists of seven members with backgrounds and expertise in botany, forest ecology, wildlife, fisheries, geology, recreation and forestry. All committee meetings are public meetings whereby the public is encouraged to attend and participate.
Key features of Arcata’s program
- The community benefits from resources conserved
- Community members support a conservation ethic and take pride in managing land for future generations
- Diverse viewpoints are respected and incorporated into the forest plan. A combination of working forests, special management areas, and ecological reserves create a balanced approach.
The operation of the Community Forest is tied to the approved forest management plans and a 1979 voter approved initiative to manage the forests using ―ecological principles‖ with a portion of the net revenue to be used for parkland acquisition. The Arcata Forest was the first municipal forest certified in the U.S. under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Currently, the Community Forest generates annual revenue of approximately $500,000 which is more than is needed to be self–supporting. No tax revenues are used for the forest management activity. Excess net revenue is used to purchase and maintain other City parkland and open space. Several parks and open space areas have been purchased with timber harvest revenue, including the City’s main Community Park. The City pays timber yield tax to the state on timber harvested even though it does not pay property tax.
The forest is being managed to maximize habitat diversity with an emphasis to move the forest towards an old-growth condition. Management priorities include watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation, carbon sequestration and timber harvest revenue. Approximately 35% of the land base is in reserves. The maximum allowable annual harvest is ½ of the annual growth increment on the ―working landscape‖ portion (excluding the reserves). Therefore, the forests are accruing volume and age over time.
The City directs management to be tiered to three elements of community based forestry—ecological, social and economic. The social component promotes engagement of all members of the community and builds local relationships of trust and reciprocity among diverse (and sometimes opposing) groups. It also enhances community knowledge and the skills necessary for planning and implementing sustainable forestry practices. The goal is not only more resilient forest ecosystems, but also more resilient communities, better equipped to respond to both challenges and opportunities. The ecological component involves the community in enhancing and restoring forested ecosystems, builds on local knowledge, and practices management and protection for the full range of social, ecological and economic values. The economic strategy builds and sustains livelihoods based on natural resources. It often involves fostering small-scale value-adding enterprises for timber. Economic benefits are often reinvested in the local community.
Locally, there are pressures to divide and convert highly productive redwood forestland to residential or other development uses. As this occurs, communities face losing the critical economic, environmental, recreational, social, cultural, and aesthetic values and benefits those forests have traditionally provided. The City of Arcata has identified several parcels of forestland at risk from development which would be valuable additions to the Arcata Community Forest. A larger Arcata Community Forest area
1994 Forest Management Plan objectives:
- Maintain the health of the forest system, specifically, maintain the integrity of the watershed, wildlife, fisheries and plant resources, their relationships and the process through which they interact with their environment
- Produce marketable forest products and income to the City in perpetuity, balancing timber harvest and growth
- The Community Forest shall also be managed to provide forest recreational opportunities for the Community
- The City’s forests shall serve as models of managed redwood forests for demonstration purposes