Washington state has a Designated Forest Land Program designed to incentivize forestland owners not to convert their land out of forest practices.
In the Stillaguamish watershed, 64 percent of private forestland owners have signed up for the program. The remaining private forestland is at a high risk of permanent conversion into residential land use.
This is significant because, as the 2016 State of Our Watersheds Report documents, nearly 1,882 acres of forestland has been converted in Stillaguamish watershed since 1997.
Evidence suggests the primary motivation for conversion out of forest practices is residential development. To this point, over 650 acres, or 35%, of forestland conversion since 1997 occurred between 2007 and 2009, coinciding with the region’s housing boom.
Beyond that point, 89% of all forestland conversion since 1997 has occurred on rural residential or Urban Growth Area parcels, strongly suggesting that the majority of forestland conversion is for residential or commercial property development.
Once land is converted out of working forests, not only do the trees disappear, but so do the fish protection and clean water guarantees of the Forests and Fish Law. In their place is a residential landscape with greater pollution and less protection.