NEAR NACHES, Wash.-- Five state, federal, and local organizations are working together to help protect over a million acres of forest in central Washington. But their methods, might seem a little out of the ordinary.
Cutting trees for conservation? It doesn't sound like a great way to help protect and preserve our local forests, but that's exactly what's being done on over 20,000 acres of land near Naches and Tieton.
"The Nature Conservancy's hope for these areas, in working with different partners is that we get to a point where we have resilient forests," said Reese Lolley with The Nature Conservancy.
The Nature Conservancy bought the 20,000 acres, transferring ownership of the land to public agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Now, DFW and other agencies help the conservancy preserve the land, by cutting down trees, and starting controlled fires, a way to actually keep the forest healthy.
"When fires come through, instead of big fires burning in the canopy, you see those fires drop to the ground," Lolley said.
During the tree thinning, crews come out and they look at the trees, determining which ones they're going to save versus the ones that they're going to have to cut down.
"Reducing the number of trees and small trees, it creates space for the larger trees to grow," said Lolley.
And, local outdoor enthusiasts play a role in the conservation work too.
Douglas Corpron is a third generation family physician from Yakima who says his love for the outdoors pushed him to get involved.
"I've had a deep love for my backyard for a long time and I began hearing that The Nature Conservancy had stepped in here in a unique way. We've never had much attention from large agencies like that in our backyard," he said.
TNC works in more than 30 countries around the world and now, right here in the Yakima Valley, making sure this land is protected and open for years to come.
This kind of restoration work also helps prevent large forest fires from tearing through the area. In response to the recent fires in Colorado and New Mexico, the U.S. Forest Service chief is calling for restoration efforts, like these to help protect forests around the country.