David Gabrielsen (Forest Manager)

Area Manager, Forest Capital Partners LLC  

David Gabrielsen is one of those people who always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. “From the time I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a forester,” says the professional forester for Forest Capital Partners in Coeur d’Alene.

“My mom kept a little keep-sake from my first grade class. I had written that when I grow up, I want to be a logger.” True enough. Gabrielsen had plenty of exposure to logging, forest management, hunting and wildlife under the tutelage of his father, Stieg Gabrielsen, who was a progressive forester for Crown Pacific in North Idaho. Rocky Barker wrote about the elder Gabrielsen in a book titled, The Next West: Public Lands, Community, and Economy in the American West. Gabrielsen was a forester who carefully selected trees to harvest based on the benefit to the long-term health of the forest and wildlife, Barker said. Gabrielsen “is a steward who is rooted in the land just as if he himself has come out of the soil.”

Today, son David is the Central Inland Area Manager for Forest Capital Partners in Coeur d’Alene. He’s directly responsible for managing about 100,000 acres of forest land in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. FCP purchased Crown Pacific nine years ago. “We manage everything from planning the harvest to planting the trees and everything in between,” Gabrielsen says. Forest Capital Partners is a Timber Investment Management Organization (TIMO). Institutional investors invest in timberlands and FCP generates long-term returns for the investors through its forest management activities. FCP’s future relies purely on the proper management of the forest. It does not own sawmills.

“Our objective with Forest Capital and forestry is to maximize the forest’s net present value through proper silviculture, which means proper planning of harvest, proper implementation of harvest, timing with markets and intensive silviculture treatments as well as follow up treatments,” he says. Forest Capital manages its lands primarily for timber production but the company also allows the public to access the private lands for hunting and recreation, and it places an emphasis on the long-term health of forest values. “Multiple use for Forest Capital is clean water, clean air, recreation opportunities, wildlife, biomass, timber production and aesthetics — all of the things that are associated with the forest.”

Gabrielsen likes the diversity of his job and being outdoors. “Something is always different, something is always new, and I love to get out in the woods.” In fact, he’s happiest when he’s working hard in the woods. “I’m happy when I’m sweaty,” he says with a grin. The challenges associated with being a forester for Forest Capital are many, he says.

“We spend a lot of time planning activities, but ultimately the biggest challenges to our planning are things that we can’t plan for, like the weather and changes in personnel,” he says.

Another big challenge is educating the public about managing private forest land. Forest Capital may clearcut sections of the forest to meet its management objectives but it also will replant the areas quickly to get a new stand of trees growing as rapidly as possible. “A lot of what we do looks harsh, looks tough, looks bad, and to explain what we do and why we do it and get people to see that it’s a rapid progression from the harvest to the rapidly growing plantation is challenging as well,” he says.

In fact, Gabrielsen views a clearcut as a “freshly roto-tilled garden. When I look at a clearcut, I see an opportunity for a future forest.” Forest Capital manages its lands for 40-year rotations with the objective of harvesting smaller-diameter trees than were considered merchantable when his dad was a forester. “Sawmills today are set up to run very quickly and very efficiently and they process small-diameter trees into high-quality lumber,” he says. Another important factor for Gabrielsen is to be able to respond to lumber markets to benefit his company. “Looking into the future and being able to capture different markets at different times and having the diversity on your forest land to take advantage of those opportunities is going to be a big deal.”

Technology has changed things for the better when it comes to managing forests, Gabrielsen says.
Cell phones make it easier to communicate with a forester when he’s in the mountains, compared to earlier times when it was impossible to reach them, he says. GPS units make it easier to find property lines and corners. And Android phones allow him to carry data stored on his computer into the field.

“In terms of on-the-ground implementation, technology has had a huge impact,” he says.
Gabrielsen’s favorite hobbies include hunting, being active in church, spending time with
his family, riding horses and tending to the family garden. “All of the types of things that
the rural life brings,” he says.

Want to know more?

º Learn about Forest Capital Partners:

º The importance of Forest Managers who work for Forest Capital Partners:

º Forest Capital Partners and SFI certification:

º About Timberland Investment Management Organizations:

º Private forest management in Idaho: