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Unlocking Carbon Markets for Forest Owners in the Pacific Northwest


Collaborating Partners:

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Northwest Natural Resources Group
  • L&C Carbon
  • Woodlands Carbon Company
  • The Climate Trust
  • Ecotrust
  • King County Conservation District
  • Oregon State University Forestry Extension

Project Summary:


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The Unlocking Carbon Markets for NIPF Landowners in the Pacific Northwest project will provide opportunities for non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners in Oregon and Washington to participate in a regional carbon crediting program through the American Carbon Registry. It provides new opportunities for landowners to generate additional income through sustainable forestry designed to store carbon.

This project will support about 21,000 acres of NIPF land within two regional hubs of activity in the Pacific Northwest (see list of counties above). It targets about 260 NIPF landowners in Oregon and Washington who wish to participate in a regional carbon crediting program, and who own lands in NRCS and state priority areas, as defined in regional conservation strategies.

Eligible landowners can receive financial and technical assistance developing a forest management plan and implementing pre-commercial thinning on their land to enhance carbon stocks. The carbon program generates carbon-saving credits used to mitigate for other industrial forms of carbon production. By aggregating landowners into groups, the American Carbon Registry reduces transaction costs for carbon credit trading and allows small producers to participate.

Targeted parcels will be between 75 and 4,000 acres in size, with the majority being less than 250 acres. NRCS and partner assistance will cover much of the initial expense of participating in carbon projects, specifically the development of a forest management plan and subsequent implementation of pre-commercial thinning.

Conservation activities focus on the primary natural resource concerns of air quality (specifically excessive greenhouse gas emissions), wildlife habitat conservation and enhancement, and water quality protection, and conserving forest health and diversity by reducing forestland conversion (a specific resource concern in Oregon).

NRCS and partners will develop forest management and carbon management plans for 19,900 acres of land which, if implemented, will result in a net carbon reduction of an estimated 1.25 million metric tons of CO2 over a 20-year carbon crediting period.

Landowner participation in the carbon project would include independent certification of forest management plans, carbon verification, and monitoring for at least 20 years, with options for renewal.

In compliance with the ACR carbon credit methodology, landowners seeking carbon crediting will be required to:

  1. Have forest management certification (Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or American Tree Farm System);
  2. Increase carbon storage on their property though delaying timber harvests and accelerating forest growth in a manner consistent with their forest management plan;
  3. Commit to a 20-year crediting contract with annual monitoring and periodic third-party verification and the option to renew every 20 years for up to 100 years, and;
  4. Adhere to all applicable laws and regulations.

Many of the practices currently supported by EQIP to address multiple natural resources concerns are consistent with increasing forest health and carbon storage.

This project is a ground-breaking partnership of non-profits, for profits, and government that leverages the unique skills and resources each brings to landowner engagement, management planning, carbon modeling, and carbon project development and certification.

NRCS Financial Assistance Programs Used:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Screening Questions

1. Application is for Non-Industrial Private Forestland (NIPF) located entirely within counties in the RCPP project area:

•    OREGON; Columbia, Washington, Multnomah, or Clackamas County, 

•    WASHINGTON: Cowlitz, Clark, King, Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Kitsap, Grays Harbor County AND

2. Application is for the development of a Forest Management Plan (NRCS code 106) that will include a detailed inventory showing management units and stocking rates on a map and in a narrative.

3.    Only high priority applications will be ranked and funded during the first sign-up periods.

Ranking Criteria


1. Is the application for the development of a Forest Management Plan (NRCS code 106) that will include a detailed inventory showing management units and stocking rates on a map and in a narrative? If yes, do not answer any other local level questions. 450

2. Will the EQIP contract include one or more practices identified in an existing forest management plan?

3. Will the EQIP contract include Tree/Shrub Establishment (NRCS code 612)? 40
4. Will the Tree/Shrub Establishment include a diverse mix of at least 3 species of trees, none of which is more than 50% of the total planted? 80
5. Will the EQIP contract include Forest Stand Improvement (NRCS code 666)? 40
6. Will the Forest Stand Improvement be implemented in an overstocked, even-aged, single species stand between 12 and 20 years old with a closed canopy? 80
7. Will the EQIP contract include Woody Residue Treatment (NRCS code 384)? 80
8. Is the application for NIPF that currently has Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and/or the American Tree Farm System certification? 80

NRCS Conservation Practices:

  • Forest Management Plan
  • Comprehensive Air Quality Management Plan
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Woody Residue Treatment
  • Tree Shrub Pruning
  • Forest Trails and Landings
  • Tree/Shrub Establishment
  • Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
  • Firebreak
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Fuel break
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Brush Management
  • Herbaceous Weed Control

Other Information

Northwest Oregon Carbon Opportunities for Family Forest Owners (PDF, 1.37 MB)

Points of Contact:

Brian Kittler, Western Regional Director
Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Phone: 503-836-7880

Oregon NRCS Offices:

Columbia County: (503) 397-4555

Washington County: (503) 648-3174

Multnomah County: (503) 655-3144

Clackamas County: (503) 655-3144