By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington, & Yamhill Counties

Last week I attended Forest Health: State of the State, a biannual conference put on by OSU College of Forestry. A packed agenda covered insects, diseases, fire, drought, invasive species, climate change, and other topics. I always look forward to this meeting as an opportunity to brush up on my knowledge of these issues. The speakers came from various backgrounds, representing the many forest ecosystems and ownership types we have across the state, and the audience was equally diverse. With that in mind, I’ve tried to distill the takeaways from the conference that seem most relevant to small woodland ownerships in northwest Oregon.

ODF conducts an annual insect and disease aerial survey. Click on the image to be taken to a short video from the air.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

We have been dedicating a fair amount of screen space and class time lately to the idea that many family forest landowners would benefit from thinning their young stands. We explored the reasons to consider young stand thinning (YST) as well as some approaches in a series of posts on YST .  YST is consistent with the situation and goals of many family forest landowners, which often include growing older and more diverse forests.

That said, like many other well-grounded activities, YST is not without some potential drawbacks.

Few of them are significant enough to justify not thinning at all, but each requires some thought and consideration to avoid unintended consequences. We present some of those potential drawbacks that you need to consider when planning a YST, along with some links to other information, below. Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Taking a walk through my NE Portland neighborhood recently, I came across something new in our local park. Portland Parks and Recreation is renovating an underutilized section of Alberta Park as a “Nature Patch”.

Alberta Park was part of a Homestead Act land claim over 150 years ago, and became a park in 1917. (Check out a local historian’s writeup for the details.) So over 150 years of human use, the land is far from the forest that once grew there. The Nature Patch could be thought of as a re-engineering project. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

In this series about young stand thinning , I’ve worked on the assumption that people know the density of trees in their woods. I realize that in many cases, people don’t really know that, so cannot easily apply that information to deciding if they have enough room for healthy growth or if trees need to be thinned.

If you know what distance the trees were said to have been planted, you may have a fair idea of the density (a 10’ x 10’ spacing is about 440 trees per acre, a 12’ x 12’ is about 300 tpa). This is a good start, but not necessarily very accurate.   Actual planting spacing can vary quite a bit according to the conditions in the field and experience of the planters.  And of course some seedlings die during establishment, or some other trees may seed in from outside.  So it is probably a good idea to go out and get a better idea of what you’ve got.  The basic way to do this is to measure some plots. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

The wood sickness is an all-too-common condition that afflicts many in the family forest landowner community.  As described earlier, it is characterized by large accumulations of wood in a person’s yard, shed, garage or barn, excessive buildup of chain saws and other logging tools, portable mills, and all sorts of secondary wood working tools. You know it when you see it.

People with this affliction treat wood with the same passion as collectors of fine wine treat their vintages. Each likes to hide things away and store them cool dark places, often for years at a time.  Yet each is able to recite the source and a story of how they came to own each piece or bottle.  They are determined and very patient waiting for each to find its destiny.

Orson Wells made a series of wine commercials late in his career that captured that spirit when he would declare “We sell no wine before its time.” The parallel sentiment among wood hoarders might be “we use no board before it’s stored.”

An afflicted friend of mine (who will remain unnamed) is remodeling a house and recently put in a hardwood floor. He patiently converted stacks of stickered wood into milled floorboards.  Then, he gradually and laboriously laid them out one by one to create a gorgeous floor of Oregon white oak, bordered with black walnut.  As discussed before, there is no cure for the wood sickness, but it can be helped by therapy.  The therapy is difficult and sometimes painful.  His therapy reduced the amount of wood in his stockpile while producing pain in his knees and back, but was otherwise effective and productive.

There are many people like Jay who are coping and trying to come to grips with their obsession. You see them around town from time to time.  No more so than this time of year, when they commonly emerge from garages and workshops coated in therapeutic sawdust, to display and maybe sell the products of their therapy at art shops, Christmas Bazars and the Local Goods from the Woods fair.  They may be friends, family or even complete strangers, but please show them some holiday spirit.  Meet them half way.

I bet that turned fruit bowl would look terrific in your sister’s dining room.

By Amy Grotta,  OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Old basins found at the Matteson Forest probably belonged to a dairy farmer in the mid-20th century.

Ah, November. The wet and the darkness set in and we feel like turning on the teapot and bundling up. For woodland owners, winter lends an opportunity to catch up on indoor projects: accounting, taxes, and maybe updating or writing a management plan.

Another indoor activity that I guarantee will be more interesting than any of the above is researching and putting together a history of your woodland. It may mean digging through old family files or recording the memories of an elder relative, if your property has been in the family for a while. For those with a newer relationship to their land, it may mean a lot of online research. Either way, it can be a revealing and rewarding process; and by documenting what you learn you will gain a richer connection to  your woodland and ensure this history is not lost to future generations. Continue reading

Swedish Historical Society members outside a small Swedish church in Mist, OR

When I was on the Forest Tour to Sweden and Norway in June 2016,  I learned that the Scandinavians are serious about their history as well as their forests.

So it should really come as no surprise that a group from the Swedish Forest History Society would visit Oregon to learn about our Forest History.

Touring from Seattle to San Francisco, the group spent several days in Oregon moving down the lower Columbia to the Coast, then going through the Tillamook State Forest on the way to the Valley. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

Earlier in this series (click here), we talked about some of the reasons people are interested in growing a diverse forest, some of the key components of diversity, and also some of the many ways to enhance your woods’ diversity.  The idea was to show that a landowner often has a very wide range of future options, but often needs to make choices and take actions to achieve their goals.  I know this may have seemed academic to some readers, so we will share some examples of how this looks in practice.

A meadow creates open areas where sun loving plants such as oak thrive and also forest edges that are attractive to certain wildlife.

A good example of managing for diversity to meet some specific wildlife and timber objectives is Cedar Spring tree farm near Airlie, owned by Dave Hibbs, Sarah Karr and their family.

Sarah is an avid birder, determined that any property they own provide benefits for wildlife as well as for her family. Dave is a retired OSU forestry professor interested in producing future high quality timber along with other benefits from their woods.  So, Dave and Sarah are typical of many families, with co-owners having some different objectives and priorities.  But they  have a willingness and ability to manage for multiple objectives that can be met by growing a diverse forest. So let’s take a look at some of the ways they do this.

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By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension, Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

This month we have been spending some time at the Matteson Demonstration Forest getting ready for a commercial thinning project. The actual logging will happen next summer, but we are taking care of road improvements, surveying property lines, laying out the harvest boundaries and marking the stand now, so that we are ready to go when the contractor is available.  OSU forestry students who are summer interns with the OSU Research Forests gained hands-on experience by doing a lot of this work.

OSU Research Forests staff Brent Klumph and Steve Fitzgerald, and interns Becca and Zane discussing harvest layout

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By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Lately on this blog we’ve been discussing ways to grow a diverse forest.  Many small woodland owners are interested in maintaining diversity on their land, yet strive to do it in a way that also brings in income from timber or other means. For these reasons, I was intrigued by the work of Julian Geisel, who recently wrapped up his master’s degree in the College of Forestry at OSU. His research topic, “Management Strategies for Small, Income Generating and Structurally Diverse Forests” is particularly relevant to small woodland owners. Julian’s research focused on private woodlands in western Oregon, representative of the vast majority of the owners that we work with in Extension. I interviewed Julian about his work. Continue reading