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Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL)
Forest Monitoring

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) are a defining feature of our community and key to our sense of place. The ACFL is changing, as it has from its very beginning. Now, though, it faces a climate that has started changing at rates that will become faster than ecosystems, or humans, have ever experienced.


Transition Fidalgo & Friends is sponsoring a citizen science project to monitor change in the ACFL. We have three objectives:

  1. To get to know our forest better (we care for things that we know more intimately)

  2.  To document current conditions and then track how the forest is responding and changing

  3. To make that data available to researchers and land managers, so that we learn how forests respond and if/how we can help them adapt more successfully

This is a volunteer-led project, guided by an advisory board that includes experts in forest ecology, resource management, and the administration of volunteer programs. We’ll need many volunteers to ensure success. And not just people who want to study the forest, but also those interested in data entry, education, recording people’s stories, writing articles about forest critters, organizing and contacting volunteers, and many other tasks.


We’ll also need donations to make this work. While this is a volunteer-led project, the management of a swarm of volunteers and a blizzard of data takes dedicated time from a part-time paid volunteer manager. We’re exploring different scenarios, but all will involve some cost. We hope that community members who value the ACFL will support this program both as volunteers and as donors.

Here are the ACFL studies we are involved with so far:

  • Plot studies: 12 plots on a few trails.

  • Cedar tree monitoring: evaluating the health of 100 cedars found along each of  several trails

  • Phenology: identifying the timing of when various plants bud, flower, put forth leaves, and lose leaves.

  • Soil moisture monitoring: we have two different locations with sensors at various depths in the soil to measure how much water is available for vegetation

  • Burn area photos: annual photos of the changes in the burn area around Little Cranberry Lake

  • Weather measurements: we have a professional weather station monitoring daily weather in the Anacortes area, and compare it to measurements throughout the past 120 years

  • Bird surveys: expert birders are identifying the species and numbers of birds monthly on specific trails

  • Water flow: two high school interns are measuring water flow from Heart lake this spring.

Want to get involved?

Contact us at to be involved with this exciting Citizen Science opportunity. Begun in the spring of 2019, we have nearly finished four years of studies now! Now we are preparing for our fall studies and next year’s program to carry on.

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