The Watershed Research and Training Center (WRTC) is a community-based non-profit organization in far northern California. The WRTC’s mission is to promote a healthy forest and a healthy community through research, training and education. Since 1993, the WRTC has been working to revitalize the economy of Hayfork, CA, by creating local restoration jobs and a culture of land stewardship.
Like many timber towns, Hayfork’s economy had been based on natural resource extraction. The geo-political situation (Hayfork is surrounded by the Trinity National Forest) made the community vulnerable to public lands management changes. In 1996, when Hayfork’s mill closed as a result of changes in management, 40% of the payroll in the community was lost.
The WRTC was formed in order to rebuild the local economy based on an ethic of land stewardship and restoration. To those ends, the organization has re-trained woods workers, innovated forest restoration and wood utilization techniques, promoted the responsible use of prescribed fire, hosted youth and community education programs, developed watershed monitoring and community engagement initiatives in the South Fork Trinity River, helped lead local collaborative efforts, and is working with partners to develop and implement landscape-scale restoration strategies across the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.