Panorama Roosevelt Elk at Usal Creek
Roosevelt Elk at Usal Creek, coastal redwood forest in the background. (photos by Barrett Walker on site visit)
Project Report:
Making Working Community Forests Work: Leveraging Private Capital
Purpose
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.

Summary

“Making Working Community Forests Work” project will complete the sale of a conservation easement on the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest; this will prohibit fragmentation and development, require FSC certification, and assure sustainable harvesting. The easement sale and an associated fee sale are crucial to servicing the existing loan from the Bank of America. The project explores, develops and demonstrates market-based solutions for economically and ecologically sustainable timberland financing, ownership and management. RFFI will demonstrate a free-market solution-leveraging the existing private investment by attracting supplemental public funds. Our work has become highly visible; this allows for efficient dissemination of information on the results and findings to help others replicate this innovative model of natural resource management that simultaneously places value on ecology, economy and social equity.

Usal Redwood Forest overlook
Usal Redwood Forest overlook

Description

The Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) is pleased to announce that on October 27, 2011 we closed the transaction for the sale of a conservation easement on our 49,576-acre Usal Redwood Forest to The Conservation Fund and 957-acre fee sale of the Shade Dell parcel to Save the Redwoods League. Through these transactions, RFFI and our partners have succeeded in protecting a forest landscape that covers a land area almost twice the size of the city of San Francisco. The ambitious and complex transaction was completed by the support of a strong coalition of national and local elected officials, conservation organizations, industry leaders and committed regional residents. This landmark transaction will permanently protect one of the largest non-profit owned ‘working forests’ in America.

RFFI will continue to own and manage the Usal Redwood Forest for the benefit of the region. This easement sets standards in place that protect the forest in perpetuity, regardless of its ownership. The easement establishes a fundamental conservation scenario that prohibits development and subdivision. The terms of the easement impose a 2.9% inventory harvest limitation; they require forest stewardship certification and transitioning to uneven-aged management over a 50-year period. These permanent standards will be monitored by The Conservation Fund as the easement holder. Over time RFFI hopes to grow both the conservation practices and economic benefits of the Usal Redwood Forest, located on the Mendocino-Humboldt county line, as it makes good on its financial obligations.

The Conservation Fund acquired the easement through a $19,500,000 grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and a $500,000 grant from an anonymous party. This transaction along with the previously approved $5.5 million Shady Dell parcel sale to Save the Redwoods League insures that Usal Redwood Forest will remain a working community forest. The sale of the Shady Dell parcel assures permanent protection of a 957 acre coastal parcel that contains windswept, medieval ‘candelabra’ redwoods and public access to the Lost Coast, the longest road-less area in the lower 48 states. This momentous transaction assures that Usal Redwood Forest will remain, in perpetuity, a working community forest for the economic and environmental benefit of our communities. RFFI’s mission includes their commitment to investing the excess revenue that will eventually be generated from the ongoing sustainable harvest back into the community.

RFFI applauds California’s Wildlife Conservation Board and California Coastal Conservancy strong support for this project. Their support for this innovative model of forest financing and management conserves a large working redwood forest that holds promise for regional and global impact due to the climate change implications of large landscape conservation, economic impact and replicability of the model. RFFI also acknowledges the great work of our partners at The Conservation Fund and the Save the Redwoods League for their leadership and diligence in executing this important conservation transaction.

RFFI is grateful for the expert guidance from US Forest Capital who served as our lead advisor on these complex conservation transactions. Thanks to the Walker Foundation who recently provided funding for this expert consultation. The Campbell Group that serves as the local timberland manager has been integrally involved in the transaction from its outset.

RFFI has just passed another major milestone in carrying out their mission to acquire and manage redwood forest land for the ecological, economic and social benefit of the region. RFFI, as an organization, will receive no funding from this transaction. The funding will be used to reduce the debt on the property, an innovative financial strategy that utilizes private capital that leverages public dollars for conservation investments that benefit the common good. RFFI will need volunteers and financial support that they can assure the region benefits from the richness of this working community forest. For more information about this landmark transaction ro the redwood Forest Foundation, please visit www.rffi.org.

Purpose

Negotiating the sale of a conservation easement requires that we investigate and document the underlying causes of economic imbalances that drive the ownership and management of timberlands. We will explore and develop the following market-based solutions: (1) identify and assign value to specific ecosystem services associated with the conservation of redwood forest timberland, its watersheds and biological community; (2) sell a conservation easement on Usal Redwood Forest to complement private financing; (3) complete the fee sale of a 955 acre parcel to the Save the Redwoods League; (4) demonstrate and disseminate a replicable model.

Scope

California/National/Global. This innovative model of forest financing and management that conserves a large working redwood forest holds promise for regional and global impact due to the climate change implications of large landscape conservation, economic impact, replicability of the model and RFFI’s growing public presence. The Usal purchase was the first American nonprofit forest acquisition using 100% private capital. Unique Bank of America financing allows RFFI to pioneer a national model of non-profit forest ownership, enabling local communities to implement sustainable timber practices, support jobs and protect critical ecosystems. Our work has gained worldwide media attention: National Geographic Society print & T.V. media; AP wire, syndicated news/talk shows; professional journals; UN International Year of the Forest; and RFFI’s national and regional appearances. “Working Community Forests” in Usal Forest was recently highlighted in a regional Bank of America T.V. commercial.

Amount Approved
$20,000.00 on 6/20/2011 (Check sent: 7/5/2011)


Directions
From San Francisco: Take Highway 101 North across the Golden Gate Bridge for approximately 83 miles. Exit north of Cloverdale at the "Fort Bragg-Highway 128 Exit" Turn left under the freeway and proceed to Highway 128 (1/4 mile) Turn Right on Highway 128. continue on Highway 128 for 56 mile. Continue staright ahead on Highway One for evel miles to Mendocino. The trip is about 150 miles and takes about 3 hours. You will travel through California's unique redwood forests and along the stunning Pacific ocean Coastline.


Enchanted Forest
"Enchanted Forest" along the Pacific Coast. These old-growth redwoods were never cut due to their distorted shapes and resulting low timber value. The Foundation negotiated to protect this stand as a permanent preserve.

Attachments
Usal Redwood Forest overlook
Art Harwood showing old-growth redwood stump
Sprouts circling redwood stump
Kayak on the Eel River
Pacific rhododendron
Enchanted Forest
Location Map
Panorama Roosevelt Elk at Usal Creek
San Francisco Chronicle Story (PDF)

Address
PO Box 12
Mendocino, CA 95460


Phone
(707) 984-6115
(707) 937-4808
(707) 984-6694 (fax)
(707) 937-4808

Contacts


Art Harwood
Executive Director, Redwood Forest Foundation Inc.

Posted 3/28/2011 4:24 PM
Updated   9/15/2012 8:51 PM

  • Nonprofit


Art Harwood showing old-growth redwood stump
Art Harwood showing old-growth redwood stump. The Redwood Forest Foundation is working to restore the forest and remove roads eroding sediment into salmon streams.

Sprouts circling redwood stump
Sprouts circling redwood stump. The Redwood Forest Foundation aims to cut trees at a slower pace to protect watersheds, and allow the more mature trees to reach a higher timber value.

Kayak on the Eel River
Kayak on the Eel River. With the slower pace of cutting, the River has cleared of sediment and salmon are beginning to return.

Pacific rhododendron
Pacific rhododendron. In addition to providing jobs from sustainable forestry and fisheries, the community forest will remain a place of beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Location Map
Location Map. The Usal Redwood forest is in red.

 
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