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History of our City Forest

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."

In May 1967, the City Council sold three isolated land parcels totaling 375 acres to Weyerhaeuser for $103,700. This sale left the city 4,946 acres of clocked-up timberland from the original 5,493-acre purchase, exclusive of Lake Sylvia State Park.

The City drilled wells for the City water supply in 1973 and designated the forest land to be managed primarily for sustained timber production. A full-time forester was hired to provide consistent, professional management of the forest. Bud Wild was the City's first forester and managed the forest from 1976 to 1987. Ron Schillinger managed the forest from 1987 to 2007. Loren Hiner started managing the City forest in 2007. 
The city's ability to increase harvest during high markets and back off during low markets has yielded an outstanding financial return. Over the last 25 years, the forest has netted over $24 million back to the City. 

The goal of the City of Montesano's managed forest since 1973 has been to optimize returns. In terms of future tree growth, the City has been managing to increase the average yields by 33% over the natural unmanaged stands that seeded in following the old-growth logging. The current Comprehensive Forest Management Plan suggests a flexible rotation age from 40 to 50 years (averaging 45 years) be used.

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 the maintenance of recreational opportunities, and the good stewardship of fish and wildlife habitats.