Washington State DNR Launches First-in-the-Nation Carbon Project


This is from a press release by Washington DNR (Department of Natural Resources).

These are state forests that could be logged for timber,  but won’t, to be used as carbon offsets.

Although this is a bit confusing..

Of the 3,750 acres protected during the project’s first phase, 2,500 were part of planned harvests and will now be utilized for carbon credits. The remaining 1,250 acres are being protected through existing DNR policies. Areas included in Phase Two will be announced within the next year.


I don’t know how people in Western Washington feel about timber harvesting on state lands, but if enough folks are against it, then it seems reasonable for the State to go with the flow and get the credits instead.

The 10K acres involved are in Western Washington so that fires are less likely to interfere with carbon sequestration, and the trees probably grow like weeds (not a silvicultural term).

So forests will be left alone, and make money for the State (the best of both worlds, in the eyes of some).

It will be interesting to observe if everyone supports this effort. I haven’t located any opinions published either way.

There seem to be two main categories of thoughts on this topic:

A. Offsets are never OK, companies should just stop doing things that product carbon.  (I don’t think that this is realistic in any 10 year or so time-frame, but peoples’ views don’t have to be realistic.)

B. Offsets are OK when certain practices are followed. These may include a variety of concerns.

Perhaps we need an FSC- like third party verification of forest offsets? Perhaps there already is one and I haven’t heard of it?

11 thoughts on “Washington State DNR Launches First-in-the-Nation Carbon Project”

  1. I am Registered Professional Forester in the State of CA. My consulting firm, FRST Corp, is one of four major forest carbon offset verifiers (in partnership with Ruby Canyon Environmental) in the country. Finite Carbon who is partnering with WA DNR, as mentioned in the article, is one of our biggest clients and has a well-established resume of forest carbon project development among multiple forest carbon protocols/methodologies: CA Air Resources Board Improved Forest Management and American Carbon Registry Improved Forest Management are the primary methodologies in use in the US today. All of these projects must be rigorously third-party verified by a company like mine.

    I would like to note as well, having a forest project on one’s forestland does not preclude timber harvesting, though the onsite carbon stocks must be adjusted annually to reflect harvested volume. Credits are also generated by harvested wood products though are adjusted to reflect regional mill efficiencies and wood product types and degradation.

    • Christian, thank you so much for responding!!! Are there any articles/papers you would recommend for those who want to understand more about the methodologies?

    • You say “third-party verified by a company like mine” and at the same time you say this project is partnering with your largest client?

      Don’t you realize how dishonest you sound with the very first point you make? Clearly, if we were before a judge right now, by your own admission, you sir, are in no way a qualified independent third party.

      And that’s a chronic problem in forest certification these days. The people doing the certification are not objectively reviewing forest practices but simply selling their certifications to people who want to buy them. Their methods don’t satisfy the basic tests of impartiality in a court of law.

      Furthermore, claiming a forest can be protected and continue to sequester carbon while at the same time can continue to be cut down with commercial harvesting is dishonest if you aren’t in denial of the carbon emissions sources generated from timber harvesting both during and long after.

      The science is clear, carbon emissions from timber harvesting is one of the biggest emissions producers in PNW states. And you’re straight up lying in the face of the best available science when you say carbon sequestering forests are no different than tree farming forests.

      Worst of all your entire career is a disgrace in the way its creating a carbon market that is doing more to accelerate air pollution and climate change than it is to actually helping to reduce it, especially when it comes to continuing to sell carbon credits from forests destroyed in California’s wildfires, which is fraud: https://www.propublica.org/article/the-climate-solution-actually-adding-millions-of-tons-of-co2-into-the-atmosphere

      Put simply folks like Christian here are the snake oil salesman of forestry in the 21st century.

      • Would you rather that private land owners skip the certification altogether and just clearcut those forests instead? That is one of the options that private land owners have. Or, they could wait for it to burn, then salvage log and subdivide. There are worse options out there.

      • Deane, you are making many moral claims here. But no particular data. These forests seem the least likely to be destroyed by wildfires, so is the Propublica article really relevant here?

        Also are you claiming that the entire group of people who do third party verification are not really independent? Because that would be maligning FSC and all forest certification workers.

        My own experience with those folks is not that. Have you ever been through the process with these folks?

        • The number one criticism we’ve made of 3rd party certification over the past several decades is that they’re privatizing the regulatory process and that when the person “independently” reviewing your forest plan is being paid by you they aren’t independent, they’re working for you.

          Again and again FSC, SFI and others have been exposed for this conflict of interests and their unwillingness to cancel certification because of wrongdoing because they don’t get paid if they do that. And despite yourself and others working so hard for so long to argue that there’s no conflict of interest, we’ve thoroughly documented that since the early 90’s, especially when it comes to the genocide of indigenous people who have not agreed to have their land stolen and destroyed by “certified” timber companies.

          As for the other data… You clearly didn’t read the Pro-publica article yet. Many of the major polluters buying carbon credits would not be able to pollute at the level they’re polluting right now without those carbon credits. That’s a huge problem when it comes to responsibly addressing climate change! Carbon credits is going to go the same direction as most Ponzi schemes go in coming years, especially with 1 out of every 8 acres burning in past decade in California.

          As for Fotoware claiming that clearcutting and forest destruction would be worse without these fake methods of regulation, the truth is the only difference would be that they didn’t put lipstick on the pig.

          And quite frankly us enviros don’t pay much attention to what color lipstick on the pig looks prettiest like the timber industry does. To us the truth of what is happening on the ground over time is what matters.

          • Deane, I think we’re talking about Washington State here. Do you have any specifics about genocide of indigenous people in Washington State by the timber industry? It would be odd, because indigenous people actually have their own timber industry in Washington. For example, the Colville Tribes https://www.colvilletribes.com/forestry and the Yakama https://www.colvilletribes.com/forestry. And the Yakama are certified to SFI..so…
            Please be more specific as to the location of the genocide.

            I did read the Propublica article and I have been following the California effort for some time. However, I don’t agree that in the absence of carbon credits for trees that companies would stop producing carbon. They might move out of California to a more desirable regulatory environment. Or they might simply buy other forms of carbon credits. I actually would prefer more direct air capture than dealing with trees, but I don’t have a problem with standards and verification. And the people who are doing the verification.

  2. Also from the PR:

    “Since statehood in 1889, DNR and its predecessor agencies have sustainably managed state trust lands to produce nontax revenue for beneficiaries. DNR’s timber sales program generates about $180 million per year for schools and counties across the state, many in rural areas. The new carbon project honors the agency’s fiduciary duty to beneficiaries by seeking to lease land for carbon sequestration and storage at a price that is reflective of the economic value of logging. Similarly, by diversifying revenue streams, there will be greater financial stability and certainty to beneficiaries.”

    Carbon is cool, but timber has and will pay the bills….

    • Timber has been failing to pay the bills ever since the value of the primary forest was liquidated. Before that liquidation there was a huge amount of money for roads, for schools, for reforestation, there was plenty of money for everyone! But USFS predictions in the 1950’s that federal land would produce 100 billion board feet of timber annually from tree farming we off by more than 95 billion board feet per year.

      To make up the difference of this loss of revenue they simply overharvested unsustainably and then when you add the increase of high severity fire, is it any wonder that the few sawmills that remain no longer own the forestland they harvest and Real Estate Investment Trusts own that land instead?

  3. Well, as of yesterday this entire effort has become a classic dishonest timber industry bait and switch where they create lots of publicity for “finally” protecting the oldests remaining forest. Then once no one is paying attention they change the rules to eliminate the other protections, which in effect does more to erode existing protections rather than strengthen them.

    Specifically at board of forestry meeting this week: “Commissioner Franz mentioned that she is not going to recommend changes to the Older Forest Policy and that she’s lifting the moratorium on cutting pre-1900 forests. These announcements were made very quickly, perhaps in hopes that they’d be overlooked amid the noise the DNR made about the progressiveness of its new carbon leasing plan.

    Steinhoff was kind enough to listen to the recording: https://tvw.org/video/washington-state-board-of-natural-resources-2022051062/?eventID=2022051062 and time stamp those two announcements for us (1:20: no change to older forest policy. 2:47: lifting the moratorium on older forest harvest). I hope that many of us will take the opportunity to call out these absurdities during public comments at the next BNR meeting on June 7th at 9am Pacific Time.

    This routine is corrupt and dishonest and always way too familiar to us folks who value honesty and want legitimate forest protection rather than misinformation and bait and switch publicity stunts. So sick of the lack of basic integrity and decency when it comes to “working with” the timber industry.


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