State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan
History Of the OESF
In 1989, the Commission on Old Growth Alternatives — a broad-based citizen advisory group —recommended the creation of an experimental forest on state trust lands on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. They saw the experimental forest as a place where DNR could develop solutions in a “working forest" that meets the compatible goals of generating revenue while providing for the conservation of diverse species. This will be achieved by applying and learning from innovative silvicultural techniques.
In 1992, the Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF) was established as a separate sustainable harvest management unit. The primary purpose of this classification was to gain and apply knowledge in order to better integrate management for forest commodities and ecological values.
In 1997, DNR signed an agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service creating a long-term, multiple-species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for forested state trust lands in the range of the northern spotted owl, which includes the OESF. The OESF was singled out as a distinct HCP planning unit with unique conservation strategies from the other HCP planning units. The experimental approach of unzoned forest, i.e. no areas deferred from timber management, is applied in the OESF.
In 2007, DNR started a planning effort to develop a forest land plan (landscape plan) that will guide the management activities in the OESF and will support an adaptive management process. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the OESF Forest Land Plan was published on June 1 2010.
In 2013, DNR released Revised Draft EIS and Draft Forest Land Plan for the OESF. As part of the planning process, DNR conducted a comprehensive review of current knowledge gaps. Identifying the key uncertainties in managing the OESF provides a fresh focus for OESF research and monitoring. The list of DNR priority research and monitoring activities to be implemented in the near term (within approximately five years) is presented in Chapter 4 of the draft plan.
DNR also developed a process to address these uncertainties in a programmatic fashion, linking information-gathering activities to future management decisions through a formal adaptive management. A draft procedure describing the steps in the OESF adaptive management process and the roles and responsibilities of DNR staff in the adaptive management cycle is included in the draft plan.