Willits Woods IFM Project
Mendocino County is a quiet and secluded community nestled between the rocky coastline of Northwestern California, and the wooded terrain of old-growth redwood groves. In the heart of Mendocino County is the 19,000-acre Willits Woods project area which is home to a wide variety of natural communities, including redwood, Douglas fir, coastal oak, mixed chaparral, montane hardwood, grassland, and coastal sage scrubland.
Forest management practices of this area have varied over the years as ownership of the land has changed. Heavily forested in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Northern California woods such as this often incur the negative impacts of excessive logging—loss of wildlife habitat, reduced carbon storage potential, and heavy erosion which deposits sediment into waterways.
For years, local timber companies had subjected this landscape to unsustainable harvest practices. Since the development of the Willits Woods IFM Project, there have been no commercial timber harvesting activities. Willits Woods’ forest plan provides a full range of improved watershed benefits. Its conservation efforts focus on fostering the health of migratory birds, riparian forest, streams, springs and wetland ecosystems. The project’s use of sustainable forest management practices increases the amount of carbon that can be absorbed and stored. The Willits Woods forest, like many other improved forest management projects, serves as a critical nature-based solution to climate change by avoiding carbon emissions from over-harvesting as well as removing carbon from the atmosphere through sequestration. Because the project is crediting new growth, the credits being offered from the project are considered carbon removals.
The implemented forest management plan at Willits Woods protects biodiversity and provides habitat for sensitive species, such as the Yellow-Legged Frog, Marbled Murrelet, Red Tree Vole, and the Pacific Fisher. Sustainable management of Willits Woods improves landscape ecological health, safeguards water purification, and strengthens soil stabilization. Conservation efforts help sustain critical ecosystems for coho, pink and chinook salmon as well as steelhead fish populations.
Protected forest within the project area offers the local community a place to enjoy numerous recreational opportunities, such as hiking, camping, swimming, and horseback riding.