The Natural Resources Department manages the City's 5,000 acre municipal forest for a mix of objectives: Long-term sustainability and a healthy environment, optimization of forest revenue consistent with maintenance of recreational opportunities, and the good stewardship of fish and wildlife habitats.
The City of Montesano is home to one of the Northwest's outstanding examples of a small, municipally-owned watershed. In 1931 the city purchased 5,493 acres of cut-over timberland from Neil Cooney of nearby Cosmopolis for $12,000, to provide a source of water for the city and for future timber investment revenues. Although the entire area had been logged-over to the railroad between 1902 and 1912, the logged-off land was covered in thick young stands of fir and hemlock.
In 1936, after much work and effort sponsored by the Montesano Active Club and other organizations and individuals, Lake Sylvia State Park was created around thirty-acre Sylvia Lake. Fifty acres of the park were deeded from Puget Sound Power and Light Company, while another twelve acres were purchased by the Montesano Active Club from Silas Wilder. The rest of the 172 acres for the park were dedicated from the City watershed purchase.
The first comprehensive Forest Plan was developed in 1947 with this goal:
"The starting and continuation of a plan of sustained yield management that will assure a perpetual income for the City of Montesano for 80 years or more after this body of Councilmen are gone and forgotten."