The conservation organization just acquired 7,000 new acres of land in the watershed from the Hoh River Trust. That adds to the 3,000-acre parcel the Nature Conservancy already owned. Its aim is to improve the health of the forest — and with it, the health of the river.
Most of the watershed is in state or federal hands. But the lower portion that the Nature Conservancy now owns has been logged repeatedly and replanted with conifer trees instead of with the hardwood trees and shrubs that used to line the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.
“What we’re really trying to do is to reconnect the Hoh River from the Olympic National Park all the way to the ocean and really have a healthy forested river stream corridor there,” says Dave Rolph, the Nature Conservancy’s director of forest conservation and management. He says a healthy forest “brings benefits for wildlife, it stores carbon, and really helps produce abundant salmon.”
The Nature Conservancy’s work will include selective logging, replanting, and repairing roads and culverts. The logging will help pay for the restoration work and will also provide employment for local contractors.
“People are part of a system; you have to consider the local people and their well-being,” says Bernard Bormann, a professor of forest ecology at the University of Washington and the director of the university’s Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks. “You can’t have ecological well-being without community well-being.”
Access to the land will be free and open to the public for hiking, hunting, and other non-motorized recreation.