Members of NEWFC believe that working together to find common ground through new and innovative forest management solutions will help sustain the Colville National Forest for generations to come.



NEWFC’s primary mission is to demonstrate the full potential of restoration forestry to enhance forest health, public safety and community economic vitality.


  • Design and implement proper forest restoration practices and fuel reduction projects that demonstrate innovative approaches to forestry.

  • Use the projects to educate the public about the ecological and socio-economic benefits of restoration forestry and fuels reduction strategies.

  • Develop model forest restoration and fuel reduction projects that can be emulated in other regions of the country.

  • Demonstrate how a diverse coalition of stakeholders can work together to successfully promote restoration forestry and community protection from wildfire.



In 2002, management on the 1.1 million acres of the Colville National Forest was mired in gridlock and controversy. But things have changed, thanks in large part to the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, an unusual alliance of timber companies, conservationists, business owners, and forestry professionals.

Since 2002, the Coalition has been working together to find common ground and move our region forward with new solutions to forest management problems.  Today, the fighting in our forests is behind us, and work is getting done in the woods once again, proving that we can protect special places and timber jobs at the same time.




Russ Vaagen

Russ serves as the President of NEWFC and has been involved with NEWFC from the start.  He and his family company, Vaagen Bros Lumber, Inc, have been supporters of collaboration from the beginning.  Russ is a graduate of Washington State University and lives in Colville. 


Mike Petersen
Vice President

Mike Petersen has worked for The Lands Council for over 25 years and has been Executive Director for 16 years.   Mike works with four collaborative groups on three National Forests, including the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. Mike is also a member of the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force. Mike has a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. 


Lee ‘Dick’ Dunton

Dick has been a NEWFC member since 2005 and currently serves as Treasurer, monitoring coordinator, and wildfire expert. Dick retired from the WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as District Manager, and Assistant Region Manager (35 yrs.) and the Army National Guard as Lt. Colonel (31 yrs.)  Active on wildfire Incident Command Team. B.S. in Forestry, University of Montana, 1968. 

Timothy Coleman

Tim has been active in the conservation of forest and water resources since 1971. Timothy serves as director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group in rural Ferry County WA (23 years).  He cofounded the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, the Columbia Highlands Initiative and the Wild Washington Campaign that led to the passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness in 2008. U.S. Navy veteran.


Gloria Flora
Board Member

Gloria serves as the Interim Director of NEWFC and is the Executive Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, a non-profit founded to ensure the sustainability of public lands and the communities that depend on them.  She’s the founder and former director of the U.S. Biochar Initiative. Former US Forest Service Supervisor (23 years). B.S. in Landscape Architecture, Certified Permaculture Designer.


Greg Frohn
Board Member

Greg is taking over Ron Gray’s position at Avista as Thermal Fuels Manager and is phasing into the NEWFC Board.  Greg has over 24 years’ experience in administration, sales, planning and management of timber, forest real estate, and forest products procurement projects across the US and Canada.  Greg has a degree in Forestry from University of Vermont.  


Ron Gray
Board Member

Ron was the Wood Fuel Manager for Avista Utilities’ Kettle Falls Generating Station (ret. 2016). Ron has been in the Forestry and Wood Products arena for over 40 years. Previously, he worked for International Paper Company on the Oregon Coast. His background in Forestry and love of the outdoors provides another valuable perspective for the Forest Coalition. 


Tiana Luke
Board Member

Tiana works for Conservation Northwest, a Seattle based non-profit that strives to protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild places in Washington State and British Columbia. Tiana formerly worked as a botanist/forester/GIS specialist for Northwest Management, Inc and as a biological science technician with the Bureau of Land Management. She calls northeast Washington her home but has experience working in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Tiana leads NEWFC's Adaptive Management Committee and has a Masters in Natural Resource Sciences from WSU.


Lloyd McGee
Board Member

Lloyd is the Washington Forests Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy.  Previously forester for Vaagen Bros. Lumber (18 yrs), Past President of NEWFC (10 yrs).  Prior to that, LLoyd was Senior Resource Manager for the Idaho State Dept. of Lands (8 yrs).  He’s a member and Past Chair of the Inland Empire Region of the Society of American Forestry.


Matthew Scott
Board Member

Matthew is a log procurement forester and collaborative representative for Vaagen Bros. Lumber INC.  He has +20 years’ experience with the forest and its connection to our communities.  He is committed to healthy forests and ecologically-minded forest management projects that enhance our region. Matt is former state director and member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and attended Central WA University. 


Maurice Williamson
Board Member

Maurice has been a private consulting forester since 1981 after working at WY and WA state forestry departments and Georgia Pacific. He’s Past President of WA Farm Forestry Association, a Trustee of the WA Forest Protection Association, and belongs to Society of American Foresters and Assn. of Consulting Foresters. Maurice represented the American Forest Resources Council on NEWFC. 


Meet The Staff


Andrew Spaeth

Andrew serves as the facilitator for NEWFC and is the current Forest Program Director at Sustainable Northwest. He works closely with forest collaborative groups in the Pacific Northwest, bringing together a diverse range of partners to develop agreements that aim to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire, enhance socioeconomic well-being in rural communities, and increase the resiliency of forests and watersheds.


Sarah Newman

Sarah has a BS in Forestry and Wildlife Management from UC Berkeley, a MS in Riparian Resource Management from Univ. of Nevada Reno, and has worked for the USFS and BLM as a fisheries/riparian specialist.  She has been working as NEWFC’s Coordinator since 2016. 


Bobby Whittaker
Recreation Liaison

Born into rain and moss-covered grunge, Bobby Whittaker was brought up in the freight elevator of Seattle sporting goods startup Recreational Equipment Inc. (R.E.I.). His first gig was turning pockets for his father Jim’s fledgling manufacturing company, Because Its There. Then came more than 30 years in the music business, beginning with Sub Pop Records, another locally grown company that sculpted the cultural landscape. Those long nights and days evolved into coordinating worldwide marketing campaigns, promotional events, and live music tours with American icons such as Mudhoney, R.E.M and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. From Istanbul to Johannesburg and back, Bobby has kept his roots firmly planted in the great outdoors by championing pedestrian and bicycle initiatives at State and Federal levels. His advocacy continues to this day through work with a non-profit 501c3 whose mission is to promote and develop recreational trails locally.




Dedicated coalition members from local businesses and conservation groups have invested valuable time to ensure responsible forest management practices benefit forest health and our communities in the Colville National Forest.