Upland Forest


See slideshow of old growth forest.

About 95 percent of the watershed (more than 85,000 acres) is forested, with most of that being upland forest. Only 14,623 acres of old-growth forest remain. Within those old-growth forests, over 700 acres have had some trees removed from selective logging. Most of the old-growth forest is above 2,500 feet in elevation and is between 190 and 350 years old, but there is one 540-acre patch of old-growth forest in the upper Rex River drainage that is over 850 years old. Read more about the forests in the watershed on the Seattle Public Utilities Cedar River Biodiversity website.

Old-growth forest typically has very large trees (over four feet in diameter), abundant large snags and logs, and a diverse assemblage of understory plant and fungal species. It also has a complex canopy structure, with many canopy gaps and live foliage present from the forest floor to the top of the highest tree (often more than 200 feet). This plant species diversity and structural complexity in old-growth forest provides a variety of food sources, nest sites, cover, and roost sites for many wildlife species. Consequently, old-growth forest supports more wildlife species and larger numbers of individuals than simplified second-growth forests. Of the 83 species listed in the HCP, 37 use mature and old-growth forests. Some, such as northern spotted owl, are dependent on old-growth forest habitat to breed. 

The remaining forest in the watershed was all harvested for timber. In most areas clearcut logging was used with the majority of snags and logs removed. Logging was often followed by fires that destroyed most remaining snags and logs. This second-growth forest often consists of very dense, small trees, with little light reaching the forest floor and little understory development. The lack of habitat structures like large snags, logs, and trees, and few understory plants, means this forest supports fewer wildlife species and less individuals than old-growth forest.


Our goal for the upland forest in the watershed is to provide as much benefit as possible for at-risk wildlife species dependent on old-growth forest habitat, while also enhancing habitat for other native wildlife species. Specifically we will:

  1. Protect and maintain all existing old-growth forest
  2. Reduce fragmentation of old-growth forest
  3. Reduce human disturbance in old-growth forest
  4. Restore forest wildlife habitat and old-growth forest characteristics in young second-growth forest


What are we doing for upland forest habitats?

Protect All Watershed Habitats
Management of the watershed serves to avoid or minimize adverse effects of major events such as fire, spills of toxic materials, invasive species, and excessive human disturbance.
View more information on habitat protection.

Upland Forest Habitat Research and Monitoring
We are monitoring upland forest habitat throughout the watershed to document how the forest develops through time.
View more on our upland forest habitat research and monitoring program.

Upland Forest Habitat Restoration
Upland forest habitat enhancement projects are designed as active restoration projects to accelerate old-growth forest conditions in second-growth forests generated after clearcut logging.
View more on our upland forest habitat restoration program.

Strategic Planning
Many active restoration projects are specifically located to link the existing old-growth forest patches at higher elevations. In addition, projects are planned to create high quality habitat corridors connecting old-growth forest with already well-developed second-growth forest habitat at lower elevations, as well as to wetlands and riparian areas.
View more about our strategic planning.