Rural economic vitality is a key component of sustaining rural communities and effectively managing natural resources.

Many rural communities are subject to a pattern of boom and bust natural resource industries that have created a cycle of job loss and economic hardship, and accumulated environmental damage over time. When the timber industry collapsed in the Northwest following the Timber Wars of the 1990s, many rural forest communities were plunged into economic collapse and saddled with the environmental legacy of old growth harvest and fire suppression.

The Watershed Center was founded in one of these communities. Started in Hayfork, CA in 1993, our original goal was to re-train out of work loggers and mill workers in “ecosystem management,” a solution that addressed the twin goals of job creation and innovative land stewardship.

This effort to create jobs and support businesses that facilitate sustainable natural resource management helps prevent the cycle of boom and bust natural resource industries by sustainably managing the land–striking a balance between human needs for forest products and ecological health—and protecting communities from the poverty that makes them vulnerable to new cycles of boom and bust.

Since our beginnings we have stayed true to our goal of creating jobs and supporting sustainable land stewardship practices and aligned industries. Our economic development programs address key components necessary for the long-term health of the land, and remain at the core of our mission to invest in thriving communities and resilient landscapes.

Learn more about how we are improving economic vitality and creating jobs below: