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Usal Redwood Forest Conservation Easement

In 2011, the Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) closed a landmark conservation transaction on their 49,576-acre Usal Redwood Forest. The Foundation sold a conservation easement on the Usal Redwood Forest to the non-profit Conservation Fund.

Usal Redwood Forest Conservation_Easement (2011)
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Usal Redwood Forest Conservation Easement

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This ambitious and complex transaction allows RFFI and our conservation partners to protect one of the largest non-profit owned 'working forests' in America - a forest landscape that covers a land area almost twice the size of the city of San Francisco. The transaction was completed with the support of a strong coalition of national and local elected officials, conservation organizations, private foundations, industry leaders and committed regional residents.

RFFI will continue to own and manage the Usal Forest for the economic and ecological benefit of the region. This easement sets standards in place that protect the forest in perpetuity, regardless of its ownership. The easement establishes a fundamental conservation scenario that prohibits fragmentation and development.

The terms of the easement require that:

  • in perpetuity, the 49,576 acre Usal Forest cannot be subdivided;
  • it always be managed as a well-managed forest for timber production according to the sustainability standard set by a third party certifier (in this case, the Forest Stewardship Council);
  • harvesting is limited to 2.9% of total standing inventory;
  • forest practices will transition to uneven-aged management over a 60-year period;
  • development rights be strictly limited; and
  • annual monitoring be conducted by the easement holder.

In November, 2014, the easement was transferred from The Conservation Fund to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFire). As a result, these permanent standards will be monitored by CalFire.

This momentous transaction assures that Usal Redwood Forest will remain intact, in perpetuity, as a working community forest for the economic and environmental benefit of the fish, wildlife and humans that reside there. It also holds promise for regional and global impact due to the climate change implications of large landscape conservation, economic impact and replicability of the model.


To provide guidance and insight about our forest management plans and practices, visit our Community Input page.

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