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Solving the Woody Biomass Problem Forest Tour Orcas Island


Engaging with woodland owners in San Juan County to address the unique challenges of managing island forests for both ecological health and economic viability.

Increasingly, forest owners in San Juan County are seeking guidance on how to manage their overstocked stands for improved forest health. They are also looking for creative ways to use the excess woody material that is a byproduct of restoration. For the past six years, NNRG and our partners have worked in many island forests, conducting one-on-one site visits, developing management plans, and hosting tours and classes.

In 2018, we are hosting a series of workshops for forest landowners interested in reducing the risks of wildfire, diseases, and lost value in their woods by removing and using the extra woody biomass in creative and productive ways.

Forest Tour: Thinning Overstocked Stands for Health and Productivity

Saturday, February 24, 2018 | Orcas Island


Our forests across Orcas Island that have been thinned to reduce fire risk and improve health and timber value. Learn creative ways to utilize excess woody biomass to improve habitat, enrich soils, and generate renewable energy.

See how your neighbors are thinning excess wood to improve forest health and reduce fire risk

Many forests in the San Juan islands are densely crowded with suppressed and unhealthy trees due to a lack of proper management. Excess woody biomass (small diameter or dead trees, excessive slash on the ground) poses a significant wildfire risk. Many San Juan County forest owners have improved the health of their woods and reduced their fire risk by thinning out excess woody biomass. Learn firsthand how fellow landowners are doing so and creatively utilizing the resulting low-value wood.

This driving tour will take us to several sites on Orcas Island that have been thinned to reduce overstocking and lessen fire hazard. Led by a forester directly involved with each project, we’ll discuss each landowner’s unique experience selling and/or utilizing biomass from their forest.

This workshop is the first in a three-part series on woody biomass in the San Juans. You may also be interested in our April 28th workshop, Measuring Timber and Woody Biomass in San Juan Forests, and our June 30th workshop, How to Manufacture Biochar from Woody Biomass.

Topics include:

  • Biomass reduction details from each thinning site
  • Strategies to reduce biomass gradually over time
  • Lop-and-scatter after thinning (how much is too much)
  • What makes timber merchantable or non-merchantable
  • Using thinned woody biomass to improve wildlife habitat
  • Biomass utilization methods including firewood, chips, biochar, and bioenergy
  • Silvicultural and logging methods to reduce biomass
  • Funding resources to help you pay for thinning


  • Carson Sprenger | Rainshadow Consulting – Carson has been working with forest owners in the San Juan Islands for over 18 years. He is an expert on local fire history and has conducted 8 years of research on ecological forestry.
  • Kirk Hanson | Northwest Natural Resource Group – Kirk owns a 100-acre forest in Southwest Washington, and has been working on behalf of small woodland owners for over 20 years.

Details and registration:

WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 2018
WHERE: Eastsound, Orcas Island, WA – we will send out the meeting location and time to registrants, and then carpool from there to the different sites on the tour.

All forest owners are encouraged to attend!
For more information, go to:

This workshop is offered at no cost thanks to grant funding from:
Risk Management Agency



San Juan Islands Conservation District
Rain Shadow Consulting
Forage Media